President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday formally announced longtime diplomat Wendy Sherman as his pick to serve as the No. 2 official at the State Department, putting forward another top Obama-era official for a key role in his incoming administration.
Sherman served as the under secretary of State for political affairs, the fourth-highest post at the State Department, during the Obama administration and was the lead U.S. negotiator on the nuclear deal with Iran. She also previously had stints as a counselor at the State Department and assistant secretary of State for legislative affairs.
She is currently the director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and a senior counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group.
Biden also announced that Victoria Nuland will be nominated for the role of under secretary of State for political affairs. She previously served as assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs in the Obama administration.
Nuland set off a diplomatic row in 2014 when a recording of her conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, then the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was leaked. Nuland was heard profanely panning the European Union and discussing her partiality to working with the United Nations, remarks that earned her a rebuke from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Republicans might also raise roadblocks to Nuland’s nomination over her work crafting talking points for the Obama administration’s response to the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during her time as a State Department spokesperson. However, she was still confirmed as an assistant secretary in 2013.
Sherman and Nuland have both been vocal critics of President Trump since they left government, particularly over policies they said were intended to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Besides Sherman and Nuland, Biden is tapping Brian McKeon to serve as deputy secretary for management and budget, Bonnie Jenkins to serve as under secretary for arms control and international security affairs, and Uzra Zeya to serve as under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights. All also had roles during the Obama administration.
“This diverse and accomplished team … embodies my core belief that America is strongest when it works with our allies. Collectively, they have secured some of the most defining national security and diplomatic achievements in recent memory — and I am confident that they will use their diplomatic experience and skill to restore America’s global and moral leadership. America is back,” Biden said in a statement.
“To meet this moment, we need a Department of State that looks like America, led by diverse women and men who will be unafraid to challenge the status quo. That is this team,” added Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken. “These passionate, energetic, deeply experienced nominees will help keep our people and our country safe, secure, and prosperous.”
Biden has leaned heavily on Obama-era officials to fill out his administration, particularly his national security and diplomacy teams.
The scheduling of Senate confirmation hearings for Biden’s nominees is still up in the air given uncertainty over the timing of the upper chamber’s impeachment trial.
The House voted this week to impeach Trump for a second time over his role in inciting last week’s mob that stormed the Capitol, though it is still unclear when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will send over the article of impeachment for a trial.