Amid criticism from progressive groups over President-elect Joe Biden’s choices so far for top White House officials, a leading Biden transition official on Friday encouraged people to wait to see the full picture of the team the president-elect names and highlighted that the Biden administration would include a “diversity of political views.”
Jen Psaki, who served as communications director in President Obama‘s White House and is taking a leading role in the Biden transition and steering his eventual cabinet nominees through Senate confirmation, told reporters that “I would encourage people to wait until we’ve made even one announcement about a Cabinet member and certainly more than just a dozen White House names, before they pass judgment.”
Psaki’s comments came three days after a leading progressive group allied with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other top lawmakers on the left blasted Biden’s appointments of Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Steve Ricchetti to top White House posts, calling them “unacceptable.” The executive director of the Justice Democrats described Richmond and Ricchetti as “corporate-friendly insiders.”
Psaki added that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris remain committed to naming a Cabinet and White House team that looks like America, emphasizing “that means there will be people from diverse backgrounds, diverse experiences, and a diversity of political views, including from all sides of the Democratic Party.”
Asked if the president-elect saw a Wall Street background as particularly helpful when comes to cabinet selections, Psaki noted that Biden’s “not a fan of Wall Street policies or an advocate for, you know, a lot of the policies that some people would…be in favor of or be pushing for from that end.”
Biden revealed on Thursday that he’s decided on a Treasury secretary nominee and will make the announcement around Thanksgiving. The president-elect, taking questions from reporters, called his choice “someone who I think will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions.”
Klain teased on Friday that more staffing announcements would be coming next week, tweeting that he’s “excited to be growing #Team46.”
Hours before Psaki spoke, Sanders warned Biden not to freeze out progressives as he shapes his incoming administration. The populist senator from Vermont, who was Biden’s last remaining rival in the Democratic presidential nomination race before ending his campaign in April and strongly backing the former vice president, has said he’s interested in serving as Labor secretary in the incoming administration.
“It seems to me pretty clear that progressive views need to be expressed within a Biden administration,” Sanders told The Associated Press. “It would be, for example, enormously insulting if Biden put together a ‘team of rivals’ — and there’s some discussion that that’s what he intends to do — which might include Republicans and conservative Democrats — but which ignored the progressive community. I think that would be very, very unfortunate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.