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President-elect Joe Biden officially introduced Susan Rice as the chief of his domestic agenda on Friday — claiming the scandal-scarred Obama-era national security adviser would be an “effective and tireless champion for all Americans.”
On Thursday, Biden’s transition announced that Rice was headed back to the White House as the director of the Domestic Policy Council, an eyebrow-raising choice given Rice’s lack of domestic policy experience and past controversies.
“She’ll lead and coordinate my critical domestic policy agenda,” Biden said at the Friday press conference in Wilmington, Del., where he unveiled his latest batch of new cabinet appointments.
“And she’s going to elevate and turbocharge and revitalize our domestic policy council to help us build back better on every issue across the board,” he said.
Hailing Rice as “a trusted and tested public servant” and a “friend,” Biden made vague statements about what purpose the former US ambassador would actually serve.
Biden said she would “align domestic policy, economic policy and national security unlike ever before.”
“This is a big and critical role, and that’s why I asked Susan to serve. She’s been there and she knows what it takes.”
Rice served as Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser from 2013 to 2017 before she was forced out of Washington when she falsely claimed that the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi evolved out of a protest against an offensive viral video.
The 56-year-old Obama official also lied about about her knowledge of an FBI investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
In a PBS interview in April 2017, Rice denied knowing about a surveillance operation targeting Trump campaign aides when she reportedly tried on dozens of occasions to learn the identities of the Trump transition officials.
Rice told House investigators that she asked to see un-redacted names to understand intelligence reports and to learn why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates visited New York in 2016.
The Domestic Policy Council role that Biden has installed Rice in needs no Senate confirmation — perhaps a deliberate move since Republicans who control the chamber would unlikely support her appointment.
In her own speech on Friday, Rice said she was “honored” to join Team Biden and said the nation was facing a “profoundly connected set of crises,” including the pandemic, a floundering economy, climate change and urgent demand for racial equity.
“Our top priorities will be to help end the pandemic and revitalize the economy so that it delivers for all,” she said, while promising to bring humanity to the nation’s “broken immigration system.”