President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday introduced top members of his national security and foreign policy team.
Biden’s nominees and appointees spoke for the first time since being announced on Monday by the transition team, and many offered implicit rebukes of President Donald Trump and his isolationist and “America First” worldview.
“The team meets this moment, this team behind me,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware. “They embody my core beliefs that America is strongest when it works with its allies.”
“It’s a team that will keep our country and our people safe and secure,” Biden said. “And it’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it. Once again, sit at the head of the table.”
Here’s are key lines from the event:
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State
“Now we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence. Humility because, as the President-elect said, we can’t solve all of the world’s problems alone. We need to be working with other countries, we need their cooperation. We need their partnership. But also confidence, because America at its best still has greater ability than any other country on Earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.”
Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security
“My father and mother brought me to this country to escape communism. They cherished our democracy and were intensely proud to become United States citizens. I have carried that pride throughout my nearly 20 years of government service and throughout my life.”
Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence
“Mr. President-elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power and that will be my charge as director of national intelligence. I’ve worked for you for a long time and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise and that you value the perspective of the intelligence community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult, and I assure you, there will be those times.”
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations
“On this day, I’m thinking about the American people, my fellow career diplomats and public servants around the world. I want to say to you: America is back. Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back.”
Jake Sullivan, national security adviser
“We will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism. But you have also tasked us with reimagining our national security for the unprecedented combination of crises we face at home and abroad. The pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, technological disruption, threats to democracy, racial injustice and inequality in all forms. The work of the team behind me today will contribute to progress across all these fronts.”
John Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate
“Mr. President-elect, you’ve put forward a bold, transformative climate plan, but you’ve also underscored that no country alone can solve this challenge. Even the United States for all of our industrial strength is responsible for only 13% of global emissions. To end this crisis, the whole world must come together. You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one, and you’re right to recognize that Paris alone is not enough.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will also be a member of Biden’s Cabinet, also spoke at the event.
“Our challenge here is a necessary foundation for restoring and advancing our leadership around the world and we are ready for that work. We will need to reassemble and renew America’s alliances, rebuild and strengthen the national security and foreign policy institutions that keep us safe and advance our nation’s interests, and confront and combat the existential threat of climate change that endangers us all,” Harris said.
Haines and Mayorkas would make history as the first woman to lead the US intelligence community and first Latino to head up the Department of Homeland Security if confirmed by the Senate. Haines is a former top CIA official and deputy national security adviser, and Mayorkas is a former deputy secretary of DHS.
Blinken is Biden’s top foreign policy aide and served in the Obama administration as the deputy secretary of state and principal deputy national security adviser. Thomas-Greenfield, an African American woman with a lengthy career in foreign service, previously served as assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs.
Sullivan is a senior policy adviser to Biden and served as national security adviser to Biden when he was vice president and was the director of policy planning at the US Department of State. Kerry was President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State from 2013 to 2017 and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2004.
Haines, Mayorkas, Blinken and Thomas-Greenfield will need to be confirmed by the US Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans. Two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 will determine which party controls the chamber and impact the Cabinet confirmation process.