Joe Biden to announce AG, defense secretary picks this week

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce two more key cabinet appointments this week.

Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del. that he would announce his attorney general nominee sometime this week and his nominee for defense secretary on Friday.

Michele Flournoy is considered to be the top contender for the defense role and would be the first woman to run the Pentagon.

Flournoy, 59, is a defense department veteran, having served as a defense undersecretary under Barack Obama and deputy assistant secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton.

She has been critical of the Trump’s administration’s “America first” position but in recent interviews has called for the US to take a harder line against China — a stance shared by President Trump.

In a Foreign Affairs op-ed published in June, Flournoy said the US needed to invest in new technologies to stymie Beijing’s growing influence.

“For example, if the US military had the capability to credibly threaten to sink all of China’s military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships in the South China Sea within 72 hours, Chinese leaders might think twice before, say, launching a blockade or invasion of Taiwan; they would have to wonder whether it was worth putting their entire fleet at risk,” she wrote.

More than a half dozen Democratic congresswomen sent an open letter to Biden urging him to make Flournoy the country’s first female defense secretary, as reported by the Associated Press.

But he has also been lobbied by progressive groups not to select Flournoy given her hawkish record which includes support for US troops engaging in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.

Under pressure to include more black people to his cabinet, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, the former commander of U.S. Central Command, is also being considered for the role.

Outgoing Alabama Senator Doug Jones is under consideration as Biden’s attorney general, according to various reports.

Jones developed a reputation as a civil rights champion after he successfully prosecuted Ku Klux Klan members involved in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

He served as assistant attorney general for civil rights in President Barack Obama’s administration but is likely to face serious head winds in being nominated by the Republican-controlled Senate to lead the Justice Department.

Those same GOP lawmakers blocked his nomination as labor secretary in 2013.

Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates is another contender for the role but she also comes with baggage due to her early involvement in the FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, which has come under recent scrutiny.

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