Biden’s New Education Secretary Immediately Begins Cleaning Up The Betsy DeVos Disaster

Joe Biden’s newly confirmed Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, was sworn in on Tuesday and is planning an immediate push to undo the damage that Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos did to the department.

According to The Hill, “Education advocates believe [Cardona’s] experience with public schools will be critical to rebuilding trust in the department among teachers and families and will allow the focus to return to education policy rather than the politics that dominated DeVos’s tenure.”

While Cardona is a career educator, DeVos was a Republican megadonor who “rarely advocated for public education” during her tenure leading the department.

More from The Hill:

While in office, DeVos largely unwound Obama-era policies that provided additional civil rights protections to students and protected them from for for-profit colleges. She aggressively pushed school choice and rarely advocated for public education. The final year of her tenure was marked by the shuttering of schools during the pandemic and the Trump administration’s subsequent effort to resume in-person learning.

Cardona will be charged with simultaneously reversing many of the rollbacks that took place during the Trump administration while also implementing a Biden administration agenda that has put an emphasis on closing gaps in education inequality that have been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic.

DeVos left the Trump administration in a whimper

Betsy DeVos began her tenure with the Trump administration after former VP Mike Pence had to break a 50-50 Senate tie in her confirmation vote.

Her time in the administration ended in a whimper when she tried to shield herself from any accountability for Trump’s Jan. 6 insurrection by resigning.

During the transition between the Trump and Biden administrations, DeVos even encouraged her staff to be the “resistance” against the incoming president.

Betsy DeVos was one of the worst Education Secretaries this country has ever had, and the Biden administration is quickly moving to clean up the mess she left behind.

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Senate Confirms Biden’s Commerce Secretary Pick, R.I. Gov Gina Raimondo

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary and help guide the economy’s recovery during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

Raimondo, 49, was the first woman elected governor of Rhode Island and is serving her second term. She is a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Yale Law School who went on to become a venture capitalist before turning to politics.

Raimondo will be responsible for promoting the nation’s economic growth domestically and overseas. Republican opposition to her confirmation focused on concerns that she would not be forceful enough in confronting the Chinese government’s efforts to gain an economic and technological edge through espionage.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in particular said he was concerned that she declined during her confirmation hearing to commit to keeping Chinese telecom giant Huawei on the department’s Entity List. U.S. companies need to get a license to sell sophisticated technology to companies on the list.

She subsequently told senators she had no reason to believe that companies on the list should not be there. But that answer failed to satisfy Cruz. He said it would have been a simple matter for Raimondo to commit to keeping Huawei and others on the Entity List.

“She refused to do so, repeatedly,” Cruz said before the vote. “This appears to be part of a pattern of a systemic decision to embrace communist China.”

Biden has said China is in for “extreme competition” from the U.S. under his administration, but that the new relationship he wants to forge need not be one of conflict.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in China, has also strained the relationship between the two countries with members of both U.S. political parties working to highlight any accommodations they see the other side making toward China.

Much of Raimondo’s work will be focused on regional economic issues. Lawmakers from coastal states want help protecting valuable fishing industries. Lawmakers from rural states want greater investment in broadband. She confirmed her interest in working with them on those issues during her confirmation hearing and emphasized the need to tackle climate change. She noted as governor that she oversaw construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

“We’re looking for someone who can come in and help, with private sector experience, to really move the agenda of this administration forward. So, for me, Gov. Raimondo’s private sector experience really means a lot,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “She knows how to invest in new technologies and things that are going to help us grow jobs for the future, and she knows how to match up a workforce with those job opportunities.”

The Commerce Department comprises a dozen bureaus and agencies, including the National Weather Service, the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Raimondo would oversee the work of more than 40,000 employees.

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Xavier Becerra, Health Secretary Pick, Faces Tough Confirmation Hearing

President Biden’s nominee for health secretary, Xavier Becerra, pledged Tuesday morning to work to “restore faith in public health institutions” and to “look to find common cause” with his critics, as Republicans sought to paint him as a liberal extremist who is unqualified for the job.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Mr. Becerra, the attorney general of California, was grilled by Republicans who complained that he has no background in the health profession, and who targeted his support for the Affordable Care Act and for abortion rights.

“Basically, you’ve been against pro-life, on the record,” Senator Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana, said to Mr. Becerra. He asked whether Mr. Becerra would commit to not using taxpayer money for abortions, which is currently barred by federal law, except in instances where the life of the mother is at stake, or in incest or rape.

“I will commit to following the law,” Mr. Becerra replied — leaving himself some wiggle room should the law change.

Tuesday’s appearance was the first of two Senate confirmation hearings for Mr. Becerra; he is scheduled to appear before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. Despite the tough questions, Mr. Becerra appears headed for confirmation in a Senate evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, but with Vice President Kamala Harris available to break a tie.

If confirmed, Mr. Becerra will immediately face a daunting task in leading the department at a critical moment, during a pandemic that has claimed half a million lives and has taken a particularly devastating toll on people of color. He would be the first Latino to serve as secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

While Mr. Becerra, a former member of Congress, lacks direct experience as a health professional, he took a deep interest in health policy while in Washington and helped write the Affordable Care Act. He has more recently been at the forefront of legal efforts to defend it, leading 20 states and the District of Columbia in a campaign to protect the act from being dismantled by Republicans.

Republicans and their allies in the conservative and anti-abortion movements have seized on Mr. Becerra’s defense of the A.C.A. as well as his support for abortion rights. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, branded Mr. Becerra an “unqualified radical” in a post on Twitter on Monday, saying, “Any Senator supporting him will pay a price with voters.”

The Conservative Action Project, an advocacy group, issued a statement on Monday signed by dozens of conservative leaders, including several former members of Congress, complaining that Mr. Becerra had a “troubling record” with respect to “policies relating to the sanctity of life, human dignity and religious liberty.”

They cited in particular his vote against banning “late-term abortion,” and accused him of using his role as attorney general “to tip the scales in favor of Planned Parenthood,” a group that advocates abortion rights. Asked by Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, about the late-term abortion vote, Mr. Becerra noted that his wife is an obstetrician-gynecologist, and said he would “work to find common ground” on the issue. Mr. Romney was not impressed. “It sounds like we’re not going to reach common ground there,” he replied.

Democrats are emphasizing Mr. Becerra’s experience leading one of the nation’s largest justice departments through an especially trying period, and his up-from-the-bootstraps biography. A son of immigrants from Mexico, he attended Stanford University as an undergraduate and for law school. He served 12 terms in Congress, representing Los Angeles, before becoming the attorney general of his home state in 2017.

In her opening remarks, Senator Patty Murray, who is presiding over Tuesday’s hearing as chairwoman of the Senate health committee, said Mr. Becerra had “proven himself as an executive leader by seeing one of the nation’s largest justice departments through one of the most challenging periods in recent history” and spotlighted his commitment to social justice.

“He has held companies accountable for flouting Covid-19 safety rules and putting workers at risk,” Ms. Murray said. And, she added, “he has worked throughout his career to advocate on behalf of communities of color across health, immigration, education.”

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Biden Energy Secretary Pick Called Out By Republicans For Democrats’ Awful Record On ‘Green Jobs’ (VIDEO)

Every time Democrats take power, we hear the same song and dance about green jobs. Remember Solyndra?

Democrats are never satisfied with the energy jobs we have now. Those jobs have to be destroyed to make way for green jobs that never seem to pan out.

Republicans called out Biden’s pick for energy secretary Jennifer Granholm about this on Wednesday.

The Hill reports:

TRENDING: Pro-Trump Meme Maker “Ricky Vaughn” Indicted For Using Twitter to ‘Spread Election Disinformation’ to Hillary Clinton Voters in 2016 – Faces 10 Years in Prison

Republicans press Granholm on fossil fuels during confirmation hearing

Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee pressed Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm on fossil fuel issues during her sometimes tense confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, will be tasked with helping implement the president’s goal of expanding clean energy as part of an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050…

Republicans, particularly those from fossil fuel-producing states, expressed skepticism during the hearing about replacing oil and gas jobs.

In opening remarks, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who will be the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he won’t “sit idly by … if the Biden administration enforces policies that threaten Wyoming’s economy or the lifeblood of so many people in my home state.”

And Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) expressed concerns over how long it would take for the jobs to materialize.

“If you’ve lost a job that is putting food on your table now, it’s cold comfort to know that years from now, in a different state, perhaps with a different training … there will be another job available,” Cassidy said.

Take a look at the videos below:

Brutal questions, but totally fair.

Cross posted from American Lookout.

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Senate Confirms Janet L. Yellen as Treasury Secretary

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Janet L. Yellen, a labor economist and former Federal Reserve chair, to be Treasury secretary on Monday, putting in place a key lieutenant to President Biden at a perilous economic moment, as the new administration tries to revive an economy that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

By a vote of 84 to 15, the Senate confirmed Ms. Yellen, making her the first woman to hold the top job at Treasury in its 232-year history. Her quick bipartisan confirmation underscored the support she has from both Republicans and Democrats given her previous stint as Fed chair from 2014 to 2018.

Ms. Yellen now faces a new and considerable challenge. As Treasury secretary, she will be responsible for helping Mr. Biden prepare the $1.9 trillion stimulus package he has proposed, steer it through Congress and — if it is approved — oversee the deployment of trillions of dollars of relief money.

The magnitude of the task became clear over the weekend, as a bipartisan group of senators met virtually with senior White House officials on Sunday and expressed doubt that such a large package was necessary.

Lawmakers in both parties raised the prospect of curtailing elements of the proposal, including the eligibility for a suggested round of $1,400 checks to individuals and ensuring that a more targeted distribution of additional aid, according to multiple people familiar with the discussion. They also asked the White House to provide data that would justify the proposed spending, which includes $350 billion in state and local aid and $130 billion to reopen schools shuttered by the pandemic.

Now, Ms. Yellen will be thrust into the middle of the talks, responsible for convincing many Republicans and some Democrats that the economy needs another multi-trillion dollar spending package. At her confirmation hearing and in written responses to lawmakers, Ms. Yellen echoed Mr. Biden’s view that Congress must “act big” to prevent the economy from long-term scarring and defended using borrowed money to finance another aid package, saying not doing so would leave workers and families worse off.

“The relief bill late last year was just a down payment to get us through the next few months,” Ms. Yellen said. “We have a long way to go before our economy fully recovers.”

Ms. Yellen also argued that “near-term fiscal support is not inconsistent with long-term fiscal sustainability,” explaining that a healthier economy would ultimately generate more revenue for the government.

The Biden administration has said that it hopes a package can win bipartisan support in Congress. However, if Democrats have signaled a willingness to turn to a budgetary mechanism known as reconciliation that would allow them to pass the legislation with a simple majority and bypass the usual 60-vote threshold needed.

David Wessel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where Ms. Yellen most recently worked, said that she is likely to play a key role in working with Congress given her credibility with both Republicans and progressive Democrats. He suggested that, because of Mr. Biden’s long history in the Senate, Ms. Yellen could be less involved in haggling with lawmakers and deployed to make the economic case for certain policies.

“I expect they’ll use her as an asset when they need an expert,” Mr. Wessel said. “Particularly if some people need to be talked into something.”

Ms. Yellen will also have the responsibility of being the United States’ most senior economic diplomat at a time of frayed global tensions. Ms. Yellen will have to try to repair America’s economic relationships around the world, including with allies like Canada, Mexico and the European Union, which became strained under President Donald J. Trump.

Those relationships will be critical given the Biden administration’s plan to try to combat what Ms. Yellen called China’s “illegal, unfair and abusive” economic practices by marshaling allies to exert pressure on Beijing.

At her confirmation hearing, Ms. Yellen said that China was “engaging in practices that give it an unfair technological advantage” and said the administration was prepared to use America’s “full array of tools” to address that. One of her first challenges will be to review the trade deal that Mr. Trump struck with Beijing, including China’s failure to meet it commitments, and determine if the United States should keep tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Longer term, Ms. Yellen plans to help carry out Mr. Biden’s tax proposals, which include a higher corporate tax and tax increases for the rich.

Ms. Yellen plans to bring other big changes to the mission of the Treasury Department, including using its powers to help assess the economic risks of climate change and create incentives to support clean energy technologies. She will also be focused on promoting policies that reduce racial inequality.

“It is the responsibility of the Treasury secretary to strengthen the U.S. economy, foster widespread economic prosperity and promote an economic agenda that leads to long-run economic growth,” Ms. Yellen said in a written response to lawmakers that was released on Thursday.

Ms. Yellen will be under pressure to quickly staff a Treasury Department that had been depleted under her predecessor, Steven Mnuchin. Her deputy, Wally Adeyemo, will require Senate confirmation and Ms. Yellen will need to select under secretaries to be in charge of international affairs, sanctions and domestic finance.

Earlier this month, the Treasury Department announced a chief of staff, Didem Nisanci, and a team of senior advisers, many of whom served in the Obama administration, to work with Ms. Yellen. On Monday, Treasury announced another slate of hires, including the appointment of Mark J. Mazur, a former senior Treasury official during the Obama administration, to be deputy assistant secretary for tax policy in the office of legislative affairs.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Defense Secretary Orders Review Of Military Sexual Assault Prevention Programs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his first directive since taking office, has given his senior leaders two weeks to send him reports on sexual assault prevention programs in the military, and an assessment of what has worked and what hasn’t.

Austin’s memo, which went out Saturday, fulfills a commitment he made to senators last week during confirmation hearings. He had vowed to immediately address the problems of sexual assault and harassment in the ranks.

“This is a leadership issue,” Austin said in his two-page memo. “We will lead.”

Senator after senator demanded to know what Austin planned to do about the problem, which defense and military leaders have grappled with for years. Reports of sexual assaults have steadily gone up since 2006, according to department reports, including a 13% jump in 2018 and a 3% increase in 2019. The 2020 data is not yet available.

The 2018 increase fueled congressional anger over the issue, and lawmakers have repeatedly called for action, including changes in the Code of Military Justice.

“You do agree that we can’t keep doing the same thing that we’ve been doing for the past decade?” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said during Austin’s confirmation hearing. “Do I have your commitment to be relentless on this issue until we can end the scourge of sexual violence in the military?”

Austin agreed, telling senators, “This starts with me and you can count on me getting after this on Day One.”

Technically, the directive came on Day Two. Austin arrived at the Pentagon on Friday shortly after noon, but he spent his first hours as defense chief in meetings with key leaders as he began the transition to his new job. He was in the Pentagon again Saturday, making calls to defense counterparts around the world, and he signed the memo.

In his hearing and in the memo, Austin acknowledged that the military has long struggled with the problem, but must do better.

The directive calls for each leader to submit a summary of the sexual assault and harassment measures they have taken in the last year that show promise, and an assessment of those that didn’t. And he asked for relevant data for the past decade, including efforts to support victims.

“Include in your report the consideration of novel approaches to any of these areas,” he said, adding that “we must not be afraid to get creative.”

And Austin said he plans to host a meeting on the matter with senior leaders in the coming days.

Nate Galbreath, the acting director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, said last April that he was cautiously optimistic that the lower increase in 2019 suggested a trend in declining assaults. But he said it’s too difficult to tell because sexual assaults are vastly under-reported.

Galbreath and military service leaders have repeatedly rolled out new programs over the years, including increased education and training and efforts to encourage service members to intervene when they see a bad situation. Last year officials announced a new move to root out serial offenders.

Many victims don’t file criminal reports, which means investigators can’t pursue those alleged attackers. Under the new system, victims who don’t want to file a public criminal report are encouraged to confidentially provide details about their alleged attacker so that investigators can see if they have been involved in other crimes.

Galbreath and others also have contended that, at least early on, the increase in reports was a good sign in that it showed that victims were more willing to come forward, suggesting they were getting more confident in the justice system.

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Health Secretary Alex Azar resigning on Jan. 20

Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar at the White House on August 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Pete Marovich | Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is resigning on Jan 20, NBC News reported on Friday.

In his resignation letter dated Jan. 12, Azar mentions the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week, where a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the building, injuring dozens of police officers and causing four deaths.

Azar wrote that “the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during the past week, threaten to tarnish” the legacies of this administration. “The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power …”

Azar’s resignation came after U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and several other Trump administration officials resigned after the president was accused of inciting the violence by directing protesters to head to the U.S. Capitol where lawmakers were finalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s win. The mob descended on the Capitol building Wednesday shortly after proceedings began to count the Electoral College votes and confirm Biden’s election.

In a tweet last week, Azar condemned the riot, saying he was “disgusted.”

“Physical violence and the desecration of this hallowed symbol of our democracy must end. People must immediately and peacefully disperse,” he said on Twitter.

Trump selected Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, to head the U.S. agency in late 2017, replacing Trump’s first HHS chief, Dr. Tom Price. His department is responsible for overseeing the sprawling Medicare and Medicaid programs as well as U.S. public health, medical research and the safety of food and drugs. He’s been an integral figure in the administration’s Covid-19 response.

Prior to his role, Azar served as the department’s general counsel from 2001 to 2005 and deputy secretary from 2005 to 2007. From 2012 to 2017, he was president of Lilly USA, the American arm of drug giant Eli Lilly.

Azar’s resignation comes amid a once-in-a-century pandemic. The U.S. currently has more than 23.33 million coronavirus cases and has recorded the most virus deaths by a wide margin, with more than 389,000 confirmed fatalities so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Federal and state officials are racing to distribute vaccines to prevent Covid-19 and bring an end to the pandemic.

Read Azar’s full resignation letter below:

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Pompeo non grata, or just too busy? Secretary of state cancels Europe trip – POLITICO

After refusing to recognize Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is suddenly so dedicated to a smooth and orderly transition that he canceled a trip to Brussels to focus on passing the baton.

According to a State Department press release issued Tuesday, just hours before Pompeo’s scheduled departure, the trip — billed as his final voyage abroad as U.S. President Donald Trump’s top envoy — was scrapped to ensure a “smooth and orderly transition.”

“We are expecting shortly a plan from the incoming administration identifying the career officials who will remain in positions of responsibility on an acting basis until the Senate confirmation process is complete for incoming officials,” the press release said.

But other officials said the cancellation was more a case of American snobbery being answered by European snubbery: Pompeo abandoned the trip because European officials balked at seeing him after last week’s deadly riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

Earlier Tuesday, before news of Pompeo’s cancellation, the European Commission said that no EU official would meet the secretary of state. A spokesman declined to elaborate further on the reasons or decision-making process.

Pompeo had also planned to see Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, but European officials said that meeting was called off. A day after the violent uprising at the Capitol, Asselborn had told Luxembourg Radio that Trump was a “political pyromaniac who must be brought before a court.”

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel had similarly denounced the riot in Washington, tweeting: “The violences against the #Capitol are a heinous attack on the foundations of democracy and the freedom of press. We trust in the strength of the American people and institutions to overcome these times of division & look to President-elect @JoeBiden to take on this task.”

A confrontation between Pompeo and Asselborn could have been all the more embarrassing given that one of the main areas of compensation between Washington and Luxembourg in recent years has been on the issue of reparations for assets stolen from Luxembourg’s Jewish community during the Holocaust. Neo-Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semitism featured prominently in the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol, including one rioter wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” shirt and others bearing the slogan “6MWE,” meaning “six million wasn’t enough” — a reference to Jewish Holocaust victims.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who worked diligently over the last four years to maintain Trump’s support for the alliance, had announced that he would meet Pompeo on Wednesday. But a press bulletin specified, “There will be no media opportunity.”

Pompeo telephoned Stoltenberg on Tuesday to inform him that he was canceling the visit shortly before the State Department issued its press release.

In Brussels, Pompeo was also scheduled to see Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès.

Trump spent much of his term denigrating America’s historic European allies, berating them over meager military spending, calling the EU a “foe” and claiming that the bloc was created to take advantage of the U.S.

Pompeo has had a similarly rough relationship with Brussels, including a badly-received December 2018 speech in Brussels in which he criticized multilateralism “as an end to itself,” bashed bureaucrats, and made an impassioned case for Trump-style nationalism, asserting “sovereignty before the international order.”

The State Department’s explanation for the cancellation of the trip made little sense.

Pompeo has resisted acknowledging Biden’s victory, out of evident loyalty to Trump, and only met with Biden’s designated secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on Friday, two days after the melee at the Capitol.

On the one hand, the State Department press release insisted that the agency was “well along in its transition efforts,” has “been fully engaged for several weeks,” and was “pleased with the level of cooperation and professionalism.”

But then it asserted that Pompeo needed to stay in Washington, saying “we are canceling all planned travel this week, including the Secretary’s trip to Europe” while awaiting the Biden team’s plan “identifying the career officials who will remain in positions of responsibility on an acting basis.”

It was unclear why Pompeo’s attention would be needed for career officials who are remaining in their posts.

A week after the U.S. election, with Biden’s victory already projected following days of ballot-counting, Pompeo had insisted at a televised briefing that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

“The world is watching what’s taking place here,” Pompeo said. “We are going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there will be electors selected. There is a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.”

It was that process that the Trump rioters sought to derail.

Jacopo Barigazzi contributed reporting.

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Ex-Defense Secretary Slams Trump’s Hold On GOP: ‘Maybe It’s Time For A New Party’

Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, a Republican who served in the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton, told CNN Thursday that Donald Trump is a shameful manipulator who will continue to control the GOP behind the scenes even after he leaves the Oval Office. 

“The current occupant of the White House is a ringmaster, and what he expects to do is to snap his whip, and all of the elephants jump on the chairs,” Cohen said, calling out fellow Republicans who are sycophantic toward Trump. They include Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who announced Wednesday that he will object to the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 6.

Cohen has previously said that Trump’s administration was leading the U.S. down a path toward dictatorship. He said Thursday that those who insist on appeasing Trump need to understand that the 45th president will “continue to snap the whip whether he’s in office or out of office.” 

“And every time they’re going to have to jump up and sit on that stool in order to satisfy him and his supporters,” Cohen said.

Asked about Trump’s desire to maintain control of the party — which would break from the tradition of previous one-term presidents — Cohen said that Trump has a “pathological” desire for power, and those who insist on supporting him are “diabolical.”

The former defense secretary also argued that there is a major division in the Republican Party between those who hold allegiance toward Trump and centrists such as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Romney has argued in recent weeks that Trump’s voter conspiracy theories have damaged America’s international image.

“Maybe it’s time for a new party,” Cohen said. “One that abides by the rule of law, abides by balanced budget opportunities, fiscal responsibility, but also faithful to the people of this country who vote to elect them.”

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Joe Biden selects Pete Buttigieg as Transportation secretary

President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday he has chosen former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be his Transportation secretary.

“South Bend was once called one of America’s ‘dying cities.’ Today, it’s a hub of innovation and job growth. Mayor Pete Buttigieg led that resurgence, and has been nominated by the President-elect to continue that work as Transportation Secretary,” the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition team said on Twitter.

Buttigieg, who was an opponent of Biden’s during the 2020 primary elections, is expected to play a central role in the incoming president’s plans to restore and repair roads and bridges throughout the U.S.

“This is a moment of tremendous opportunity—to create jobs, meet the climate challenge, and enhance equity for all,” Buttigieg tweeted. “I’m honored that the President-elect has asked me to serve our nation as Secretary of Transportation.”

The president-elect has for months said smart, climate-friendly infrastructure projects can help the U.S. emerge from the coronavirus recession stronger and help support thousands of jobs.

Buttigieg, 38, quickly became a household name during the 2020 elections as a younger, yet still moderate option for Democrats hoping to prevent a second term for President Donald Trump.

Though Buttigieg dropped out of the 2020 race in March despite winning in the Iowa caucuses, the openly gay politician soon thereafter endorsed Biden for president.

The president-elect has often offered high praise for Buttigieg as emblematic of the next generation of Democrats and was widely expected to name him to a high-level administration post.

“Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a patriot and a problem-solver who speaks to the best of who we are as a nation. I am nominating him for Secretary of Transportation because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us,” Biden said in a statement. “Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the DOT, the site of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better. I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency, and a bold vision — he will bring people together to get big things done.”

A business ally of Biden’s told CNBC that Buttigieg could have a big impact on the administration’s infrastructure proposal since he’s not connected to the stagnant talks in Congress about how to pay for such a plan.

“He will not be inhibited by what has always been the limitations on Capitol Hill,” the person said. I “haven’t spoken with him yet, but I am positive if it happens.”

This person declined to be named in order to speak freely.

Among its many proposals, the Biden campaign floated a $2 trillion plan that, married to his climate goals, would “build a new American infrastructure and clean energy economy.”

The expansive plan includes more general investments for roads and bridges, and more specific proposals like providing every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options.

Buttigieg, a military veteran, is perhaps best known in politics for his two terms as the mayor of South Bend from 2012 to 2020.

Under his tenure, the city embarked on extensive urban development and economic revitalization projects similar to those championed by Biden in promises to revitalize American infrastructure.

Critics of his time as mayor say his revitalization plans for South Bend did not necessarily benefit racial minorities as much as hoped.

For example, many were optimistic about his plans to knock down or repair nearly all of the city’s vacant homes, a demanding initiative that experts thought beyond possible. The program concentrated on the city’s lowest-income black and Hispanic neighborhoods, where homes were in disrepair.

And while many said they were happy to see dilapidated structures removed, they lamented a lack of planning on what would fill the space.

CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed reporting.

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