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Biden announces picks for Secretary of State, Homeland Security

President-elect Biden's picks include the first Latino and immigrant as Homeland Security Secretary and the first woman to lead the intelligence community.

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden has announced his nominees and appointments for key positions on his national security team. 

Biden has selected Antony Blinken, Secretary of State; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence; Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor; and John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

Biden's picks include the first Latino and immigrant as DHS Secretary and the first woman to lead the intelligence community. Additionally, John Kerry will lead the incoming administration’s effort to combat climate change.

Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration and has close ties with Biden. If nominated and confirmed, he would be a leading force in the incoming administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances.

Biden is moving forward with plans to fill out his government even as Trump refuses to concede defeat, has pursued baseless legal challenges in several key states, and has worked to stymie the transition process. The stakes of a smooth transition are especially high this year because Biden will take office amid the worst pandemic in more than a century, which will likely require a full government response to contain.

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RELATED: Antony Blinken to be Biden's pick for secretary of state

"We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy," Biden said in a statement. "I need a team ready on Day One to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values. This is the crux of that team."

In nominating Blinken, Biden would sidestep potentially thorny issues that could have affected Senate confirmation for two other candidates on his shortlist to be America’s top diplomat: Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons.

Rice would have faced significant GOP opposition and likely rejection in the Senate. She has long been a target of Republicans, including for statements she made after the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

  • Antony Blinken, a former Deputy Secretary of State, will be nominated to serve as Secretary of State having previously held top foreign affairs posts on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and in the State Department.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, file photo, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria. Blinken is the leading contender to become President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team's planning. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
  • Alejandro Mayorkas, a former Deputy Secretary of DHS, who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate three times throughout his career, will be the first Latino and immigrant nominated to serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Credit: AP
In this July 25, 2013 file photo, Alejandro Mayorkas, President Obama's then-nominee to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
  • Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service who has served on four continents, will be nominated to serve as United Nations Ambassador and elevated the role to his Cabinet.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2014, file photo Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, right, testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the National Security Council. This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue.
Credit: AP
In this Jan. 9, 2020, file photo former Secretary of State John Kerry smiles while speaking at a campaign stop to support Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at the Biden for President Fort Dodge Office in Fort Dodge, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
  • Avril Haines, a former Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor, will be nominated to serve as Director of National Intelligence and will be the first woman to lead the intelligence community.
  • Jake Sullivan has been appointed National Security Advisor and will be one of the youngest people to serve in that role in decades.
Credit: AP
Former State Department Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan speaks during a hearing on Iran before the House Foreign Affairs Committee at Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)