Joe Biden has tapped former Senator Ted Kaufman, a longtime adviser and friend, to lead his transition team as the Democratic presidential nominee enters into a more formal phase of planning for a potential administration.
“The next president will confront an ongoing global health pandemic and inherit an economy in its worst shape since the Great Depression. No one will have taken office facing such daunting obstacles since Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Kaufman said in a statement. “Joe Biden is prepared to meet these urgent challenges on the day he is sworn in as president.”
The Biden transition effort is still in its early stages but is likely to intensify in the coming weeks. The team includes former Obama administration officials and former Biden aides, as well as an economic policy adviser to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and an aide to a congresswoman who is close to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Progressives have been waiting to see how Biden would incorporate their positions in the transition process and hoped that people with ties to Sanders and Warren would be included on the team.
They also have favorable views of Kaufman, who represented Delaware in the Senate for nearly two years after Biden became vice president and vacated that seat. During that time, he fought for tougher rules for Wall Street following the financial crisis.
Yohannes Abraham, a top aide to senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in the Obama White House, will be joining the operation in the coming weeks to manage day-to-day operations. He’s also worked as chief operating officer of the Obama Foundation.
Avril Haines, a former principal deputy national security adviser and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will also join the staff soon to set up the transition’s policy and agency review operations, as well as to lead its work on national security and foreign policy.
Other senior staff preparing to join the transition team are Gautam Raghavan, chief of staff to Representative Pramila Jayapal, who was a co-chair of Sanders’s presidential campaign; Angela Ramirez, chief of staff to Representative Ben Ray Lujan; former Biden White House adviser Evan Ryan; and Julie Siegel, Warren’s senior counsel for economic policy, who previously was a senior adviser at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Kaufman said the transition would follow a set of “core values,” including “diversity of ideology and background; talent to address society’s most complex challenges; integrity and the highest ethical standards to serve the American people and not special interests; and transparency to enable trust and visibility at every stage.”
Kaufman led Biden’s vice-presidential transition efforts in 2008 and early 2009 and has advocated for improving the processes surrounding the work of shifting power from one presidential administration to the next.
President Barack Obama signed a bill into law in 2016, partially named for Kaufman, requiring the initial work around a transition to begin six months before the presidential election.