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Biden rewards loyalty – Politico

Welcome to POLITICO’s 2020 Transition Playbook, your guide to one of the most consequential transfers of power in American history.

“PART OF THAT STREET ETHIC IS LOYALTY” — The best way to get a job in the Biden White House is to have once worked for President-elect JOE BIDEN.

That much has become clear this past week, with 13 of the first 14 White House appointments going to former Biden staffers. Several were high-ranking officials on the 2020 campaign or were in the vice president’s office but many also go back decades — to his Senate office or even his 1988 presidential run. Biden’s transition team is also full of Biden veterans, suggesting many more are likely to pop up in his administration.

The hires are part of a larger dynamic in Biden-world: he values loyalty.

President BARACK OBAMA’s Defense secretary, LEON PANETTA, who also served with Biden in Congress, described Biden’s approach to politics as “street smarts” versus “Harvard smart.” He said that “part of that street ethic is loyalty to people and loyalty to friends.”

All four hires announced Friday worked with the Bidens before the 2020 campaign. CARLOS ELIZONDO, the new White House social secretary, was the Bidens’ social secretary for the entire Obama administration. The new director of White House personnel, CATHY RUSSELL, was Jill’s chief of staff while she was Second Lady and worked on Biden’s 1988 campaign. LOUISA TERRELL, who will be heading up legislative affairs, was Biden’s deputy chief of staff in the Senate. The fourth, MALA ADIGA, is now policy director to Jill and worked at the Biden Foundation.

Biden can sometimes put loyalty above optics, even when it’s politically risky — a dynamic to watch closely for in the administration when a scandal inevitably hits. Progressives have been publicly attacking longtime Biden aide STEVE RICCHETTI for weeks for his corporate ties, for example, but the president-elect named him to one of the powerful posts in the West Wing, anyway and took the incoming.

It’s hardly unusual for presidents to bring former aides into their administrations with them, of course. President GEORGE W. BUSH hired his former gubernatorial chief of staff, JOE ALLBAUGH, as FEMA administrator and stocked his administration with veterans of his father’s single term as president. Obama brought former Senate aides such as PETE ROUSE and CHRIS LU into his White House. President DONALD TRUMP hired his own daughter and son-in-law as top aides.

But Biden has been in Washington for much longer than anyone ever elected president — and thus has a veritable army of former aides who could end up going into the administration.
Some names to watch out for:

JESSICA HERTZ, who served as Biden’s principal deputy counsel while he was vice president, is now the transition’s general counsel.

EVAN RYAN, another Biden aide during the Obama years, is on the transition’s intergovernmental affairs team.

DON GRAVES, who was Biden’s domestic and economic policy director while he was vice president, is now heading up Biden’s Treasury Department review team.

JEFF PRESCOTT, who was Biden’s deputy national security adviser while he was vice president, is leading his National Security Council review team.

Are you in touch with Biden’s transition team? Do you work in an agency preparing (or not preparing) for the transfer of power? Are you EVAN RYAN? We want to hear from you — and we’ll keep you anonymous: [email protected]. You can also reach Alex, Theo, Megan, Alice and Daniel individually if you prefer. Our DMs are open Evan!

At the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Del., for the fifth day in a row, where he met with House Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Senate Minority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER. It is also his birthday.

With Biden at the Queen.

HELENA BOTTEMILLER EVICH sat down with former North Dakota Sen. HEIDI HEITKAMP, a potential pick for Biden’s Agriculture secretary. Heitkamp’s aim was to discuss a new bipartisan carbon task force she’s co-chairing with former Sen. SAXBY CHAMBLISS, but the conversation delved into a range of other issues, including Biden Cabinet chatter.

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BRIGHT SPOT, INDEED — Senate Republicans are signaling they will confirm most of Biden’s Cabinet picks in January — a rare bright spot for a White House that may clash with a GOP majority for years to come, BURGESS EVERETT writes.

Many Republicans won’t even publicly concede that Biden will be the next president while Trump fights to overturn the election results. But a critical mass of GOP senators said in interviews that Biden has the right to his Cabinet, indicating he may be able to staff his administration largely to his liking.

HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE BIDEN TO PICK HAALAND: More than 50 House Democrats urged Biden this week to select Rep. DEB HAALAND (D-N.M.) as his Interior secretary, SARAH FERRIS and Theo report. Haaland would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary. “You can make history by giving Native Americans a seat at the Cabinet table for the first time,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter obtained by POLITICO on Thursday. At least two other New Mexico Democrats — Sens. MARTIN HEINRICH and TOM UDALL — are also considered potential Interior secretary picks.

SHIFTING SANDS — Taiwan is hoping the new economic dialogue with the United States that kicked off Friday will help pave the way for talks on a bilateral free trade agreement under Biden, Taiwan Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs CHERN-CHYI CHEN tells DOUG PALMER.

RELATED: The U.K. is also looking to Biden to wrap up talks on a free trade agreement early in 2021, Palmer reports.

START THE CLOCK — Four senior House Democrats are demanding that GSA Administrator EMILY MURPHY brief them Monday on the reason she has yet to ascertain Biden’s win in the presidential election, warning that her answers will determine whether they intend to haul her to Capitol Hill for a public hearing, along with other senior General Services Administration officials. Sen. GARY PETERS (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and 40 other Senate Democrats sent a similar letter requesting a briefing — but, unlike their House colleagues, they can’t summon Murphy to the Hill without Republicans’ assent. KYLE CHENEY has MORE.

ARE EVEN TRUMP SUPPORTERS TIRING OF RUDY AND HIS HAIR DYE? A new poll from Pew Research Center finds that voters have much more positive views of Biden’s conduct since the election than Trump’s – and 57 percent say the Trump campaign’s legal challenges to the voting and ballot counting process should end. And about a third of Trump voters (34 percent) rate his conduct since the election as only fair or poor, compared with just 4 percent of Biden voters who give the former vice president low marks.

But, but, but … The survey finds that Trump voters are overwhelmingly supportive of the legal challenges to the election that his campaign has been mounting: 85 percent say they should continue.

“In my Oval Office, mi casa, you casa”

Biden showing off his Spanglish to Pelosi and Schumer during their meeting in Wilmington, Del., this afternoon.

Jones, Yates, Patrick on Biden’s attorney general shortlist (The Wall Street Journal)

Merrick Garland is also under consideration for attorney general, sources say (NPR)

Who is Arun Majumdar, who could be Biden’s Energy secretary? (E&E News)

Samantha Power on what Biden’s foreign policy should look like (Foreign Affairs)

DeFazio: If this continues, “Murphy should be compelled to testify” (The Washington Post)

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PROGRAMMING NOTE: Transition Playbook will not publish on Thursday, Nov. 26, and Friday, Nov. 27. We’ll be back on our normal schedule on Monday, Nov. 30. You can continue to follow our 2020 transition coverage HERE.

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