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Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has made his choice for secretary of state, three people familiar with the matter tell Axios, moving quickly to assemble a Senate-confirmable Cabinet even as President Trump refuses to concede the election.

The big picture: Biden already has said he's made his choice for Treasury, and both picks may be aimed at defusing confirmation fights with Senate Republicans and internal battles with Democratic progressives.

  • Biden is expected to roll out several top Cabinet picks next week, long before two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 determine which party will control the Senate.
  • Teasing his upcoming Treasury announcement yesterday in Delaware, he said his selection "will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions."

Between the lines: So far, Biden's inner circle has remained leak-proof on the names of his final selections. But sources tell Axios that the nation's top diplomatic post will not go to Susan Rice, an indication Biden doesn't want to begin his presidency with a standoff.

  • Some Senate Republicans have sought to demonize her for the Obama administration's initial response to the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
  • Rice, who was a finalist to be Biden's vice president, could still be tapped to serve in another role in the Biden administration.

Be smart: Several Democrats close to Biden expect him to name his longtime adviser Tony Blinken to State. Biden aides declined to confirm Blinken is the pick.

  • If he is, that could create other openings inside the White House senior staff — in roles including national security adviser. Avril Haines, who served as deputy national security adviser under Obama, is thought to be a leading contender for that position.
  • Amid earlier predictions of a "blue wave" sweeping Democrats to a Senate majority, which did not come to pass, insiders had expected Rice to be tapped for State and Blinken to become the national security adviser.
  • A spokesman for the transition declined to comment for this story.

What we're watching: Biden's earlier remarks about his thinking on a Treasury pick set off speculation on Wall Street that he'll announce former Fed Chair Janet Yellen. But some Democrats close to Biden are not convinced that current Fed governor Lael Brainard is out of the running.

  • Biden announced additional senior White House staff today, including Ambassador Cathy Russell, to head the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.
  • Her husband, Tom Donilon, served as Obama's national security adviser before Rice and is under consideration for a high-level national security post, including director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Go deeper

Updated Feb 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's nominees for attorney general, health and human services secretary, interior secretary, CIA director and U.S. trade representative will testify before Senate committees next week.

The big picture: Biden wants known, trusted people around him, many from the Obama administration, to help implement his policies and turn away from the tumultuous Trump years.

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

7 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

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