On Thursday, Biden told the Treasury Secretary that he had settled on his choice, but that officials had also come to a decision – or intended to do so – on other critical cabinet posts, some of which are expected to be announced before Thanksgiving. Biden is looking at provisional days on Monday and Tuesday for the first contacts of cabinet members, an official said, adding that others will come later.
Lal Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, appears to be the top contender to lead the Treasury Department. If elected, she will become the first woman secretary of the treasury, which will help Biden launch her pledge to name a different cabinet. But three officials close to Biden’s transition declined to say whether Brainard was the final choice, saying it was a close decision that the president-elect would reveal only after Thanksgiving.
But officials say Biden could announce his choice as foreign secretary next week, along with another cabinet post.
Biden spoke with his advisers about taking a very slow approach, including waiting for the results of the Georgia Senate runoff election to determine Senate control, but Trump’s actions moved Biden without delay.
Explaining the need for the Biden team in the wake of Trump’s antics, an official close to the transition said, “We want to let you know we rule, we work and we run.”
It was only a matter of days a week since Ron Klein was named Chief of Staff of the Incoming White House, but that decision marked the beginning of a movement in the Jump Biden team. And Jeff Giants, co-chair of the transition, has been working for months on a variety of options for Biden about top staff decisions.
Biden is actually interviewing prospective cabinet members with one or two exceptions, as he is taking serious measures to protect his health in the face of rising coronavirus cases.
In an interview with CNN’s The Situation Room on Thursday night, Klein said more White House staff would make announcements on Friday. Those positions were learned by CNN, along with the White House Social Secretary, the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of the Presidential Personnel.
Carlos Elizondo will be appointed White House Social Secretary on Friday, a transition official told CNN.
She served as Social Secretary for then-Vice President Biden and then-second woman Jill Biden during the Elizando Obama administration. He is only the second person to serve as White House Social Secretary and inherits a unique dynamic as the White House adapts its activities to the coronavirus era.
The third Latino Elizondo to be named for the East Wing. Earlier this week, Anthony Bernal was chosen as Jill Biden’s senior adviser, and Julissa Renosa Pantalion as her chief of staff.
Officials say Illinois Democrat Senator Tommy Duckworth is under consideration to lead the Department of Defense, a decision that is historic. Duckworth was not only a decorated veteran, but also the first woman to serve as Secretary of Defense. Michelle Flornoy, a key defense figure in the Clinton and Obama administrations, is also a leading contender for the post.
“All of this has been accelerated more than we thought,” an official said, adding that Biden was expected to be the winner two weeks ago.
CNN’s Arlette Senz and Carolyn Kelly contributed to the report.