Biden selects Susan Rice to lead Domestic Policy Council, McDonough for Veterans Affairs

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year MORE has selected Susan Rice, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, and is nominating Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughPentagon launches civilian-led commission to address military sexual assault Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary MORE as secretary of Veterans Affairs, the transition announced on Thursday.

“The roles they will take on are where the rubber meets the road — where competent and crisis-tested governance can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, enhancing the dignity, equity, security, and prosperity of the day-to-day lives of Americans,” Biden said in the statement.

Rice also previously served as national security adviser during the Obama administration, and will now direct the Domestic Policy Council, a unit with broad purview over Biden's domestic agenda, including health, immigration and education policy. The role does not require Senate confirmation.


McDonough, who served as deputy national security adviser and later White House chief of staff under former President Obama, will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate in order to lead the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs, an agency that has for years attracted public scrutiny as a result of management issues.

McDonough received swift praise from Democrats. Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedCORRECTED: Overnight Defense: COVID-19 stymies effort to study sexual assault at military academies | Biden, Saudi king speak ahead of Khashoggi report Overnight Defense: New Senate Armed Services chairman talks Pentagon policy nominee, Afghanistan, more | Biden reads report on Khashoggi killing | Austin stresses vaccine safety in new video Senate Armed Services chair expects 'some extension' of troops in Afghanistan MORE (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, called McDonough an “outstanding pick to lead the VA.”

“Denis is a principled, professional patriot and a great supporter of veterans. A former White House Chief of Staff, he is a distinguished public servant who brings the experience, skill, and leadership to be effective in this new post,” Reed said in a statement.

McDonough’s appointment came as a relative surprise. Others in the mix for the position included Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDuckworth calls for Russian bounties intelligence to be declassified Senate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (D-Ill.) and Bob McDonald, the former VA secretary under Obama. McDonough will be only the second non-veteran to hold the post if he is confirmed, after David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinBiden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus deal A crisis that unites veterans MORE, who served as President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE’s first VA secretary.

Biden also officially announced other appointments and nominations, including Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeBlack Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary MORE (D-Ohio) as his nominee for secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Katherine Tai, a trade lawyer for the House Ways and Means Committee, as his nominee for U.S. trade representative; and Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE as his nominee to serve as secretary of Agriculture, a role that Vilsack will reprise from his time serving in the Obama administration. 


The announcements of Rice and McDonough in particular underscore the degree to which Biden is leaning on officials with deep experience who worked with one another during the Obama administration.

Rice had also been viewed as a leading contender for Biden's secretary of State, a nomination that ultimately went to Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenWhy Biden can't turn back the clock on the Iran nuclear deal Trump suggests Biden took 'similar' approach in Khashoggi killing US condemns arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong MORE, a longtime adviser with deep foreign policy experience who served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. Rice was also viewed as a potential running mate for Biden before his selection of Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Brown vows Democrats will 'find a way' to raise minimum wage MORE (D-Calif.), who is now vice president-elect. 

Biden has periodically announced members of his White House staff and intended Cabinet, beginning with his national security and economic teams. This week he announced his health team, including his nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Health Care: Senate to vote on .9 trillion relief bill this week | J&J vaccine rollout begins | CDC warns against lifting restrictions Politics, not racism or sexism, explain opposition to Biden Cabinet nominees The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden vs. Trump, part II MORE (D).

On Wednesday, Biden introduced retired Army Gen. Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinCan a common bond of service unite our nation? Politics, not racism or sexism, explain opposition to Biden Cabinet nominees Pentagon releases training materials to address extremism MORE as his nominee for Defense secretary, thought there are questions over his ability to be confirmed due to his need for a waiver to serve in what is considered a civilian position.

Biden has been under tremendous pressure to appoint women and people of color to top roles in his White House and Cabinet. Tai would be the first Asian American and first woman of color to serve as U.S. trade representative if she is confirmed. 


There are a handful of Cabinet positions and top roles Biden has yet to fill, most prominent among them attorney general and CIA director. Biden is said to be considering outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones (D), federal appeals court Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination Watch live: Senate panel votes on Biden's attorney general nominee This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback MORE, former Deputy Attorney General Sally YatesSally Caroline YatesBiden directs DOJ to phase out use of private prisons The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from chaotic downtown DC Biden to name Merrick Garland for attorney general MORE and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickTo unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate Biden faces pressure to take action on racial justice issues Biden selects Susan Rice to lead Domestic Policy Council, McDonough for Veterans Affairs MORE (D) as candidates to lead the Justice Department. 

Meanwhile, President Trump continues to refuse to concede the election despite unsuccessful efforts in court to challenge voting procedures.

Trump has falsely claimed he won the election and that it was "rigged" against him, despite a lack of evidence supporting his assertions of widespread voter fraud. Despite the lack of proof, Trump suggested on Twitter Thursday morning that Biden would be an "illegitimate president," a tweet that was marked as containing disputed information.

Updated at 4:11 p.m.