Opposition from progressive lawmakers and activists may keep President-elect Joe Biden from nominating former Pentagon official Michele Flournoy to be the nation’s first female defense secretary, according to reports.
Sources said Biden is planning to pick Flournoy, Fox News said, while also citing a Sunday tweet from US Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), first vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“Flournoy supported the war in Iraq & Libya, criticized Obama on Syria, and helped craft the surge in Afghanistan,” Khanna wrote.
“I want to support the President’s picks. But will Flournoy now commit to a full withdrawal from Afghanistan & a ban on arms sales to the Saudis to end the Yemen war?”
Meanwhile, Flournoy’s backers were trying to blunt the impact of groups led by Just Foreign Policy and Demand Progress that planned to demand she explain her past positions on Yemen, Libya and Syria, as well as arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Foreign Policy reported.
Several foreign-policy experts in contact with Biden’s transition team said the progressive pushback was highly unlikely to prove effective, the magazine said, adding that it was unclear who her opponents would prefer instead.
Six people close to Biden’s transition team said Biden was still on the fence regarding Flournoy, with two former Obama White House officials adding that Biden never developed a strong personal relationship with her, Politico said.
Obama’s second Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson — who would be the first black defense secretary — is also under consideration, Politico added.
“Michèle is still at the top of the list but they still want to keep looking — and that’s a change,” a former senior national security official told Politico.