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Biden announces King-less foreign policy and national security team

Sen. Angus King was reportedly being considered for the top intelligence role, but Avril Haines was tapped for the position instead.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2020, file photo Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden smiles as former Secretary of State John Kerry, left, takes the podium to speak at a campaign stop at the South Slope Community Center in North Liberty, Iowa. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden announced key members of his foreign policy and national security team. Among the top veterans tapped for the roles are New Englanders John Kerry and Jake Sullivan.

But missing from the list of Biden’s key members is Maine Independent Sen. Angus King, who had reportedly been considered for a top intelligence position. Instead, that position will be filled by Avril Haines, who was named Director of National Intelligence.

When Politico reported King was being considered for the position, King’s communications director told NEWS CENTER Maine that King “is focused on being a United States Senator,” a sentiment King echoed on Monday following the Haines appointment.

“Avril Haines is a smart, experienced professional who has been outspoken in her concerns about the dangers in politicizing the IC’s work,” King said in a statement to NEWS CENTER Maine. “I recommit myself on behalf of Maine and the nation to support the intelligence community’s vital role in maintaining the highest standards for the collection and analysis they provide for our national security.”

RELATED: Reports: King considered for top intelligence position with Biden administration

Haines, a former Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor, will be the first woman to lead the intelligence community.

“The Intelligence Community is at a delicate place in time where they need a steady hand to guide them, to steer them back on course, and to restore morale,” King said. “The IC’s mission is critical - to seek the truth and speak the truth – yet the outgoing President did not appreciate or respect this simple objective.”

"I’ve worked with [Haines] for over a decade," Biden said in a statement. "She’s brilliant and humble and will always tell it straight while engaging in this work in a way that reflects our shared values. Under her leadership, our intelligence community will be supported, trusted, and empowered to protect our national security, without being undermined or politicized. We will be safer because of her."

So, King will remain in the Senate alongside his newly-re-elected counterpart Sen. Susan Collins. King will serve under his current term until 2025. 

Former Massachusetts Sen. and Secretary of State John Kerry will fight climate change full-time as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and will sit on the National Security Council. This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change, reflecting the president-elect’s commitment to addressing climate change as an urgent national security issue.

"Secretary Kerry needs no introduction. From signing the Paris Agreement on behalf of the United States as Secretary of State, to forming a bipartisan climate action coalition alongside the next generation of climate activists, his efforts to rally the world to combat climate change have been expansive and relentless," Biden wrote in a statement. "Now, I’ve asked him to return to government to get America back on track to address one of the most urgent national security threats we face—the climate crisis. This role is the first of its kind: the first cabinet-level climate position, and the first time climate change has had a seat at the table on the National Security Council. There could be no one better suited to meet this moment."

Granite Stater Jake Sullivan has been appointed National Security Advisor and will be one of the youngest people to serve in that role in decades. Sullivan, of Portsmouth, is currently a senior policy advisor to President-elect Biden and formerly served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama-Biden administration.

Of Sullivan, Biden said, "No one has a deeper understanding of the overlapping challenges we face, and how to protect our national security and advance a foreign policy that delivers for the middle class."

"He will be one of the youngest National Security Advisors in history, and his once-in-a-generation intellect and poise under pressure makes him the ideal choice for one of the toughest jobs in the world," Biden said. 

Sullivan and Kerry are in addition to a slew of several more New Englanders who were named to top hires announced last week, including Massachusetts native Jen O’Malley Dillion, who will serve as a deputy chief of state in the Biden-Harris administration.

Biden’s latest announcement continues the transition process as President Donald Trump refuses to concede defeat while working to stymie the process. The appointments of Obama-Biden administration vets over more unfamiliar, though qualified, players—like King—is a testament to the elevated stakes of a smooth, quick transition.

"We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy," Biden said in a statement. "I need a team ready on Day One to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values. This is the crux of that team."

Biden said, "This team will be ready to take on our nation’s greatest challenges on day one, which is important because there is no time to waste when it comes to our national security. In adding these great Americans to my team, I hope my message is loud and clear: America is back. And America is ready to lead."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.