Antony Blinken, a veteran Washington foreign policy hand and longtime consigliere to the president-elect, will be nominated secretary of State this week, most major media are reporting.
Blinken previously served as deputy secretary of State and deputy national security advisor to then-President Barack Obama and national security advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden. He has worked off-and-on for Biden in some capacity for decades, dating back to the president-elect’s marathon tenure in the U.S. Senate.
Blinken claimed territory as Biden’s chief foreign policy advisor early in his primary campaign for president, and never let go. He stayed notably close as Biden went from prohibitive front-runner to a forgotten man to then the comeback kid; Biden secured the nomination just as the planet began to shut down amid the Coronavirus catastrophe.
Blinken’s selection echoes other early choices by the president-elect. The future White House’s political staff is already chalk full of veterans of Bidenworld, including Ron Klain as chief of staff and Mike Donillon as senior counselor. A relatively newer face with the president-elect, 2020 campaign manager Jennifer O’Malley Dillion, has been tapped as deputy chief of staff.
But Blinken is the first loyalist whose installation requires Congressional consent.
Blinken’s nomination is seen as likely to succeed whether the Republicans triumph in Georgia in January – and hold the Senate – or not. The apparent naming of Blinken also comes as President Trump is technically contesting the election, while his campaign suffers legal defeat after legal defeat and his team of attorneys has been revealed to be in utter shambles. The blowout between the Trump and Biden teams means the transition process has not formally begun, though leading Republicans are increasingly cutting off Trump from further avenues of denial. Considered a hawkish centrist, the choice of Blinken is a relief to the American foreign policy establishment, as well as those in the GOP willing to turn the page. Top Republicans such as Sens. Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio have signaled they’ll play ball on nominees that are conventionally seen as mainstream.
Blinken beat out Sen. Chris Coons, from Biden’s home state of Delaware, who would likely have been confirmed, as well – senators are loath to sabotage the nominations of one of their own. Sen. Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, would have attracted the ire of Iran hawks.