By: By Paul Steinhauser, Allie Raffa
It’s been nearly two weeks since President-elect Joe Biden named most of his national security team for his incoming administration.
But Biden’s yet to announce his choice for secretary of Defense.
The wait will end this week, as the president-elect told reporters on Monday that he would name his defense secretary on Friday.
And Biden’s facing pressure from competing factions of Democrats over his choice, with Black leaders urging him to select an African American while others are calling on him to name the first female Defense secretary.
Two contenders who’ve emerged in recent weeks are retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the former commander of U.S. Central Command, and Jeh Johnson, who served during the Obama administration as the Pentagon’s top lawyer and later steered the Department of Homeland Security. Both Austin and Johnson are Black.
Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense in President Barack Obama’s administration, has been considered a leading contender for nearly a month. She is cofounder of the centrist think tank Center for a New American Security. But a growing number of progressive voices have opposed her, pointing to her record during the Obama administration.
Biden, departing his transition headquarters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, was asked by reporters when he would name his Defense Secretary and attorney general. The president-elect answered that he would make an announcement Wednesday and Friday.
He later clarified that his defense announcement would come Friday but didn’t say when he’d make his attorney general pick public.