Richmond Times-Dispatch

Biden’s initial Cabinet picks expected Tuesday

Inaugurati­on plans will be modified as result of pandemic

- BY ALEXANDRA JAFFE

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden’s first Cabinet picks are coming Tuesday and planning is underway for a pandemic-modified inaugurati­on in January as his team moves forward despite roadblocks from the Trump administra­tion.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, offered no details Sunday about which department heads Biden would first announce. The Associated Press has reported that Biden could name his nominee for secretary of state or Treasury secretary this coming week.

Biden has pledged to build the most diverse government in modern history, and he and his team often speak about their desire for his administra­tion to reflect America. He is being watched to see whether he will make history by nominating the first woman to lead the Pentagon, the Treasury Department or the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the

first African American at the top of the Defense Department, the Interior Department or the Treasury Department.

Biden said last week he had settled on his pick for Treasury secretary.

Klain said the Trump administra­tion’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key informatio­n about agencies and federal dollars for the transition is taking its toll on planning, including the Cabinet selection process. Trump’s General Services Administra­tion has yet to acknowledg­e that Biden won the election — a determinat­ion that would remove those roadblocks.

“We’re not in a position to get background checks on Cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s “This Week.”

Even some Republican­s have broken with Trump in recent days and called on him to accept the results of the election.

“I, frankly, do think it’s time to — well, it was past time to start a transition, to at least cooperate with the transition,’’ said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., on NBC’s ”Meet the Press.”

Looking ahead to the Jan. 20 inaugurati­on, Klain said it is “going to definitely have to be changed” due to the pandemic, and that the Biden team is consulting with Democratic leadership in the House and Senate over their plans.

“They’re going to try to have an inaugurati­on that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.

Inaugurati­ons typically include a traditiona­l parade down Pennsylvan­ia Avenue, remarks by the president and vice president from the Capitol, a lunch with lawmakers in the Capitol rotunda and numerous balls across Washington. All are events attended by hundreds and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people who travel to the nation’s capital.

It’s unclear how public health concerns will affect those traditions.

During the campaign, Biden drew a contrast with Trump on the coronaviru­s by paring down his own events in response to the pandemic. Biden held smaller gatherings where people were asked to wear masks and adhere to social distancing recommenda­tions from public health experts. Since he won the presidency, Biden has emphasized the importance of mask-wearing.

Russian President Vladimir

Putin said he’s ready to work with any U.S. leader, but he still isn’t ready to recognize Biden’s victory.

“We will work with anyone who has the confidence of the American people,” Putin said on Russian state TV Sunday. “But that confidence can only be given to a candidate whose victory has been recognized by the opposing party, or after the results are confirmed in a legitimate, legal way.”

Putin is one of a dwindling number of leaders who haven’t recognized Biden as the next U.S. head of state.

When asked if not recognizin­g Biden could damage U.S.Russia relations, the Russian leader said: “There’s nothing to damage, they’re already ruined.”

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