In a wide-ranging interview — his first since being named President-elect — Joe Biden told NBC’s Lester Holt that he would consider appointing Republicans who voted for Donald Trump to his cabinet, and he said that he was wary of taking someone out of the Senate, namely Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, to place them in his cabinet or in another role in his administration.
“Have you considered for the sake of national unity selecting or nominating a Republican, someone who voted for President Trump?” asked Holt. “Yes. And we still have a lot more appointments to make. I want this country to be united. The purpose of our administration is once again uniting. We can't keep this virulent political dialogue going. It has to end,” Biden said.
While many of his first appointees and nominations were longtime civil servants, many of whom served under President Barack Obama, Biden underscored that this is not a third Obama term.
“This is not a third Obama term because we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama-Biden administration,” he said. “President Trump has changed the landscape. It's become America first. It's been America alone. We find ourselves in a position where our alliances are being frayed. It's a totally — that's why I’ve found people who join the administration and keep points that represent the spectrum of the American people as well the spectrum of the Democratic party.”
On appointing progressive senators like Sanders or Warren, Biden seemed to reject the notion. “Taking someone out of the Senate, taking someone out of the House, particularly a person of consequence, is really a difficult decision that will have to be made."
Biden emphasized that his priority when he assumes office will be tackling coronavirus, but noted that he also intends to send immigration legislation to Congress and take action on climate in his first 100 days.
“There’s multiple things that are going to be taking place at the same time,” he said of his priorities. “But the most important thing, I think, is to focus on those folks, who are always, when crisis hits, are the first ones hit, and recovery comes to last."
Biden said that health care workers and first responders should be the first to take the vaccine.
The President-elect once again said that he would not direct his Department of Justice to investigate Trump.
“I will not do what this President does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen,” he said. “There are a number of investigations that I’ve read about that are at a state level. There's nothing at all I can or cannot do about that. But I’m focused on getting the American public back in a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it. The middle-class and working-class people are being crushed. That's my focus.”