Nick Explains: Presidential Transitions



President-elect Joe Biden speaks Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Nick Sack, World News Editor

Between Nov. 7, the day he was projected to be the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and Jan. 20, President-elect Joe Biden will orchestrate a transition team, which will be charged with creating the executive cabinet for his administration.

Biden’s first challenge is selecting around 30 people to serve as his White House staff and cabinet officials. This includes secretaries of the 14 major executive departments, high positions, such as the U.N. ambassador and their personal staff, the chief of staff, top economic and domestic advisors, press secretary and other personal aides. 

Biden is looking to create a team that is ready to go on day one. He has already launched his transition team’s website,, which describes himself and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and shows their priority issues. Biden will announce his picks for key positions on this site. 

Though his selections are being held very tightly by his team, many people, especially on Twitter, are speculating about who they could be, myself included. Here are my picks for some of Joe Biden’s executive cabinet. 

Secretary of Defense: Michele Flournoy 

Flournoy was the undersecretary of defense for policy during President Barack Obama’s first term, and she’s been extremely active in the past few months, including the involvement in a Pentagon blueprint to develop new technologies to outpace China. 

Secretary of State: Ambassador Susan Rice

Rice was a potential pick to be Biden’s vice president, but with that job going to Harris, it’s easy to put Rice here as a candidate to lead the State Department. She’s held every job imaginable in the foreign policy world, including U.N. ambassador, top diplomat to Africa and National Security Advisor. She is a no-brainer for Secretary of State.

Secretary of Treasury: Lael Brainard

As much as I would love to put Sen. Elizabeth Warren here, it would be a disaster for Democrats in the Senate. If Warren gave up her position as a senator, the Republican governor of Massachusetts could nominate any Republican to serve as the new senator, giving up another seat. This makes Lael Brainard a possible candidate here. She’s served as the undersecretary of Treasury and acts as the current governor of the Federal Reserve. Brainard is more than qualified to replace Steve Mnuchin. 

Attorney General: Sen. Doug Jones

After losing the Senate seat in Alabama to Tommy Tuberville, Jones will be looking for a job in January. Luckily for him, he can find one as the attorney general. Jones is the former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and has successfully prosecuted members of the Ku Klux Klan in his past. In my mind, this makes him a great pick for attorney general in a Biden-Harris administration.

Secretary of Agriculture: Rep. Marcia Fudge

Fudge, who represents John Carroll University’s district in Congress, has been a fierce advocate for food security and is a top candidate among progressives. Serving as the chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition has allowed her to pursue food stamp access in a major way. Fudge would do an incredible job serving as the secretary of agriculture, helping those in poverty access food. 

Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs: Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg has been in the minds of many Democrats, who wonder where he will be going next. I believe that he will be serving as the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs. This position will allow Buttigieg to sail by for the next four years and retain some sense of relevance, all while filling out his resume in an area he is very competent in, especially with his previous military service. 

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Gov. Jay Inslee

Inslee, governor of Washington, has been a major player in the environmental movement for awhile, making it a key issue of his short 2020 presidential campaign. I have a fair amount of confidence that this will translate into a Biden cabinet position, and Inslee’s name has often been floated around when discussing environmental positions. 

Of course, only time will tell when Biden will release his picks for these cabinet positions, but according to the New York Times, we should hear about some main positions by Thanksgiving. Hopefully, a Biden-Harris administration will be ready to hit the ground running and replace the members of the Trump administration who are on their way out in January.