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Biden to nominate Antony Blinken for Secretary of State reports say – here’s who he is

Then-Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken (U.S. State Department photo/Released)
November 23, 2020

Joe Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken, his top foreign policy advisor during the 2020 presidential race, for Secretary of State, according to sources familiar with the decision who spoke with Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN. Biden is preparing his cabinet even as President Donald Trump continues to contest the 2020 election results.

The various news outlets all reported Blinken could be one of several names Biden announces in a round of cabinet picks, expected by Tuesday. According to the Wall Street Journal, Blinken’s ties with Biden go back nearly 20 years and he served as a national security adviser to Biden during the campaign.

Blinken, 58, previously served in President Barack Obama’s administration as principal deputy national security adviser from 2013 to 2015 and as deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017. According to CNN, Blinken also advised on the 2011 raid to kill Osama Bin Laden, and in 2014 on the Obama administration’s response to Russia’s incursion against Crimea. He also reportedly advised on the Obama administration’s efforts to counter the ISIS terror group.

Prior to his work in the Obama administration, Blinken served as the Democratic staff director to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Biden chaired during his time as the U.S. Senator from Delaware.

Jake Sullivan, another man who served as a national security adviser to the Biden campaign was also being considered to reprise the national security advisor role in a Biden administration, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal reported Blinken has advised Biden to recommit the U.S. to alliances and international agreements Trump has withdrawn from and been critical of throughout his presidency.

“If we’re not in the game, then it’s likely that it’s going to get even more problematic,” Blinken said before the election. “You’re much more likely to be effective if you’re actually inside—you don’t have much standing if you’re outside, and you’ve ceded your influence.”

Blinken, in July comments to Bloomberg, said, “The first thing is we have to dig out from a strategic deficit that President Trump has put us in. President Trump has helped China advance its own key strategic goals.”

Blinken told Bloomberg that Biden will “step up defenses of Taiwan’s democracy by exposing Beijing’s efforts to interfere.”

China has previously shown opposition to the U.S. established closer ties with Taiwan, including in recent months when it flew warplanes over the island while a Trump administration visited and has threatened sanctions against U.S. arms manufacturers over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in October.

China contends that Taiwan is part of its territory, though the island’s democratic government has positioned itself as sovereign from the Chinese mainland.

Blinken, in comments reported by the Wall Street Journal also said, “Stronger economic ties with Taiwan also support our shared democratic values, and our common commitment to regional peace and stability.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia James Melville, reacting to the news of Biden’s reported plans to nominate Blinken, told CNN, “Tony was a terrific deputy secretary. He is brilliant and kind and would be a wonderful and very effective leader of what will have to be one of the most monumental tasks in diplomacy, cleaning up the stables after the worst president and secretary of state we have ever had.”

Melville was nominated by President Obama to serve as the ambassador to Estonia in 2015 and resigned from his role in 2018 under President Trump’s administration.

An unnamed current State Department employee also told CNN that Biden “couldn’t have picked a stronger choice to demonstrate his commitment to diplomacy and the diplomatic corps, much less the partnerships and alliances that make us strong.”