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Former Sen. Kaufman to run Biden transition team

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Former Vice President Joe Biden has chosen his closest confidant to lead the transition team tasked with staffing and preparing for a Biden administration should he beat President Trump 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 Jayapal (D-Wash.), who endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the primary. And Biden is hiring Julie Siegel, who served as a top legal adviser to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (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 Clinton set up transition teams in 2016.

Trump’s team was led by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, 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 Romney’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.

Tags Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Donald Trump election 2020 Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Jared Kushner Joe Biden Mitt Romney Pramila Jayapal Ted Kaufman transition team White House transition

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