Former Sen. Kaufman to run Biden transition team

Former Sen. Kaufman to run Biden transition team
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign emails supporters encouraging mask-wearing: 'We have nothing to lose' Cuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks MORE has chosen his closest confidant to lead the transition team tasked with staffing and preparing for a Biden administration should he beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE in November's election.

Biden's campaign said Saturday that former Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Biden's longtime Senate chief of staff, would head the early transition efforts. Kaufman replaced Biden in the Senate for two years when Biden resigned to become vice president.

"The next president will confront an ongoing global health pandemic and inherit an economy in its worst shape since the Great Depression. No one will have taken office facing such daunting obstacles since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Joe Biden is prepared to meet these urgent challenges on the day he is sworn in as president, and begin the hard work of addressing the public health crisis and rebuilding an economy that puts working families first," Kaufman said in a statement issued by the campaign.


"In that spirit, and to ensure continuity of government during such a critical moment for our country, we have begun the very early stages of pre-transition planning," Kaufman said.

Biden's transition team will be managed by Yohannes Abraham, who held several senior roles in the Obama administration and who now teaches at Harvard's Kennedy School. Avril Haines, the former deputy director of the CIA, will oversee national security and foreign policy departments within the transition.

The campaign said it would bring on four other staffers in the coming weeks, including representatives from the more progressive wing of the party.

Biden's team will include Gautam Raghavan, currently chief of staff to Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalMatt Stoller: Big tech House grilling the most important hearing on corporate power since the 1930s Hillicon Valley: House panel grills tech CEOs during much anticipated antitrust hearing | TikTok to make code public as it pushes back against 'misinformation' | House Intel panel expands access to foreign disinformation evidence Five takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs MORE (D-Wash.), who endorsed Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Trump Spanish-language ad equates progressives, socialists Biden's tax plan may not add up MORE (I-Vt.) in the primary. And Biden is hiring Julie Siegel, who served as a top legal adviser to Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.).

Angela Ramirez, chief of staff to Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and former executive director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Evan Ryan, who served as a top Biden adviser when he was vice president, are also slated to come aboard.


The transition from one administration to the next is a traditional practice during a presidential campaign. Both Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump vows challenge to Nevada bill expanding mail-in voting Biden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman Juan Williams: The Trump Show grows tired MORE set up transition teams in 2016.

Trump's team was led by his son-in-law, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDeutsche Bank launches investigation into longtime banker of Trump, Kushner Watchdog group accuses Stephen Miller of violating Hatch Act with Biden comments Ivanka and Kushner earned at least M in outside income last year: financial disclosures MORE, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) before Christie was pushed out in a leadership scuffle just after the 2016 election. Clinton's team was led by Ken Salazar, the former Colorado senator and former President Obama's first interior secretary.

The transition project has become more critical in the last two decades after terror attacks on New York City and the Pentagon in 2001. Though Obama ran against the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush, he lavished praise on and tried to emulate Bush's commitment to a smooth transition of government.

"Throughout the current transition, President Bush and his administration have extended the hand of cooperation and provided invaluable assistance to my team as we prepare to hit the ground running on January 20th," Obama said in 2009, three days before he took office.

In recent years, transition teams have been given government office space to begin planning the opening days of a new administration. They will identify key staffers to hire, vet potential Cabinet nominees who are likely to be confirmed in pro forma votes in the Senate, and plot Biden's first orders and priorities if he wins in November.

Kaufman is no stranger to the transition process. He headed up Biden's transition to the vice presidency in 2009, and he and former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) — who ran Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility CNN chyron says 'nah' to Trump claim about Russia MORE's (R-Utah) transition team in 2012 — crafted a 2015 measure meant to smooth the transition process.

"Vice President Biden's transition — like his Administration to follow — will prioritize the following core values: diversity of ideology and background; talent to address society's most complex challenges; integrity and the highest ethical standards to serve the American people and not special interests; and transparency to enable trust and visibility at every stage," Kaufman said in the statement.