By Tanveer Kaur
Ted Kaufman, former Delaware senator and longtime advisor to Joe Biden, is co-leading Biden’s transition team. Kaufman has advised Biden since he joined the U.S. Senate in the 1970s. He was appointed in 2009 to complete Biden’s Senate term when Biden became Vice President. Yohannes Abraham, a longtime staffer for former President Barack Obama who handles the day-to-day operations, is also a prominent figure in this team.
Jeff Zeints is a co-leader of the Biden transition team. As a former Obama White House official, his job within this team is to help with Economic policies. Zeints is among a small group of Democrats who made a fortune at the intersection of the investment industry and corporate America, gained power in the White House and can easily weave in and out of those worlds. A former top economic adviser to Barack Obama, he hosted a Biden fundraiser in November 2019. He served on Facebook Inc.’s board until this year, and now he’s on leave as head of the Cranemere Group, a holding company that buys businesses.
Biden and his campaign understand that diversity and representation are key. “Vice President Biden’s transition—like his administration to follow—will prioritize the following core values: 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 said.
Avril Haines, former Principal Deputy National Security Adviser and Deputy Director of the CIA, will manage the transition team's national security and foreign policy. Some team members are in the joining process, including Angela Ramirez, longtime chief of staff to Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujan and former Congressional Hispanic Caucus Executive Director. Other team members who will join in the coming weeks include Gautam Raghavan, the current chief of staff to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA); Evan Ryan, who advised Biden in the White House; and Julie Siegel, most recently Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's senior counselor on economic policy.
Most recently, Biden hired a Facebook executive, Jessica Hertz, who has spent two years navigating political advertisements on social media platforms. The news of her appointment broke within less than two weeks of the campaign hiring Twitter’s public policy director, Carlos Monje.
Cindy McCain, a longtime family friend of the Bidens and widow of the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), recently endorsed Biden, straying from her party affiliation. Taking her endorsement one step further, she has joined the Biden transition team as a senior advisor. “Joe and I don’t always agree on the issues, and I know he and John certainly had some passionate arguments, but he is a good and honest man,” McCain, 66, tweeted. “He will lead us with dignity.”McCain is just one of the growing number of Republicans reaching across the aisle.
As the election approaches, Biden, by law, must begin thinking ahead to a potential transfer of power. This is a potentially fraught step this year if the former vice president wins, given the prospects of a prolonged ballot count in several states, as well as President Trump’s voiced unwillingness so far to say that he would accept the election results if he loses. Biden transition co-chairman Ted Kaufman said his team is “preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health crisis and struggling economy.” Kaufman added, “This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.”