© 2021 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Delays, Biden Will Begin To Get Classified Briefings

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

What will President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration look like? Well, we're starting to get a clearer picture. He announced his communications team last night and is expected to reveal his economic team as early as today. There are many more women and more people of color as Biden seeks to make good on his promise to have his government look like America. And Biden is also beginning to get classified briefings today after the General Services Administration formally approved the transition last week. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson has the latest, and she joins us now. Hi, there.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So let's start with Biden's communications team. He named seven people to senior White House communications roles. They are diverse, and they're all women.

LIASSON: They're all women. For the first time, the top aides who are going to speak in public for the president will all be women. Several of them are women of color. Kate Bedingfield will be the communications director. This is the same role she played for the Biden campaign. Jen Psaki, who's an Obama veteran, will be the press secretary. Karine Jean-Pierre will be the deputy press secretary. And Symone Sanders, who was also a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, will be the top spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris.

You know, Biden has said, maybe making a pointed contrast with Trump, that communicating truthfully is one of the president's most important duties. These are the people who will carry that out. And it's possible that, compared to Trump, we will see relatively more of them and less of Biden.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In addition, though, to Janet Yellen, NPR has confirmed a couple more names on Biden's economic team that the president-elect is expected to announce this week. We should remind everyone, of course, that we are in the middle of a very large economic downturn, so these are important nominations. Who are they?

LIASSON: That's right. Franco Ordoñez, our colleague, has confirmed what The Wall Street Journal first reported that Neera Tanden will be nominated as director of the Office of Management and Budget. She is the president of the Center for American Progress. It's a left-of-center think tank. She's a former adviser to President Obama and to Hillary Clinton. Wally Adeyemo will be Janet Yellen's deputy at the Treasury Department. He is a Nigerian immigrant. Tanden is also a woman of color; she's an Indian American. But she's also controversial, and already some Republican members of the Senate are saying they don't want to confirm her. A spokesperson for Senator John Cornyn of Texas says she has, quote, "zero chance of being confirmed." So it sounds like there'll be a fight there. And the Republicans are determined to deny at least one of Biden's Cabinet picks. And as you said, Biden's going to have more top economic officials' names out this week because he has said that confronting an economy in the precarious condition that it is is his top priority.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Today marks a first for President-elect Biden when it comes to briefings. What can you tell us about those briefings and the significance of this milestone?

LIASSON: Well, it's significant because it tells you that the peaceful transfer of power is continuing. He gets his first national security intelligence daily brief today. Once the General Services Administration ascertained that he won the election, he gets cooperation with federal agencies across the government. And that means that the transfer of power is going forward. Transitions are a lot like first dates - if you spend enough time thinking about them, they tell you a lot about the relationship. There's a lot of clues there. Trump's transition was famously chaotic. Remember he fired Chris Christie, the first leader of the transition. But Biden's has been very orderly, even plodding. It sent a very clear message that he'll have a diverse, experienced Cabinet and staff - doesn't mean that he'll be successful - but it tells you something about his approach to governing. He sees it, the government, kind of as a Swiss army knife - lots of tools to carry out his agenda, as he says, to help middle-class families and working people. He doesn't see it as a swamp or deep state.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just briefly, just to, you know, continue with the analogy of first dates, the ex is still on the scene, and President Trump has not relented. He gave a lengthy interview to Fox News yesterday, repeating baseless allegations about voter fraud, as he has done on Twitter. But the window for his efforts is closing.

LIASSON: The windows for his legal efforts is closing. He got shut down yesterday in Pennsylvania in one case, another one on Friday. He says his next stop is the Supreme Court, but it's not clear that the court will be willing to literally overturn the election when so many lower court judges have said it was free and fair. But Trump also said on Friday that he would leave if the Electoral College said Biden is the winner.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thank you.

LIASSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.