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Samantha Power (left) sits at the United Nations in 2014 with National Security adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama. Photo: Anthony Behar-Pool/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering Samantha Power to head the United States Agency for International Development, which would place a high-profile figure atop foreign aid and coronavirus relief efforts, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Installing Power — a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about genocide — would signal the Biden administration plans to revitalize foreign assistance and use it as an instrument of soft power and to achieve humanitarian goals.

Power was a prominent member of President Obama's cabinet and recently wrote a Foreign Affairs article about the president-elect headlined: "The Can-Do Power: America’s Advantage and Biden’s Chance."

  • Biden hasn’t made a final decision on the position, and there could be other candidates — including those who were passed over for Cabinet positions — in the mix.

Power was featured in "The Final Year," a documentary about Obama's foreign policy team, and previously worked as a journalist covering conflict in the Balkans.

  • Among the most pressing issues she would face would be rejoining the World Health Organization and managing America’s global response to COVID-19.
  • “The Trump administration’s response to the most urgent problem in the world today — the coronavirus pandemic — has been worse than that of any other nation,” Power wrote in the Foreign Affairs piece.

The big picture: Power, currently a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, has been a leading advocate for using military force, when justified, to achieve humanitarian goals.

  • USAID is an independent government agency but works in tandem with the State Department. The administrator's job requires Senate confirmation, but isn’t part of the Cabinet.
  • The agency has been in the news lately because of the activities of its Trump appointees.
  • Some Democrats, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have advocated elevating it to a Cabinet-level position.
  • Other potential contenders include Ertharin Cousin, a former executive director of the UN World Food Program, according to Foreign Policy. 
  • A Biden transition official declined to comment.

Flashback: In spring 2011, Power argued for a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Moammar Gadhafi from his stated goal of slaughtering some of his own people.

  • Then-Vice President Biden opposed the no-fly zone, but Obama eventually supported one, a move that led to the deterioration of the U.S.-Russia relationship.

Between the lines: Power’s husband, Cass Sunstein, who ran the highly influential Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in Obama’s first term, could return to government, as well.

Editor's note: Adds detail about Power's journalism career and omits reference to Cameroon incident.

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: The end of the Omicron wave is in sight — Transplants rebound from COVID lull.
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden to announce plan to distribute 400 million masks for free — Government website for free COVID tests launches early.
  4. World: WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

University of Michigan reaches $490M settlement in sex abuse case

Jon Vaughn, a former University of Michigan and NFL football player, speaks at a press conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., in June 2021. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The University of Michigan on Wednesday reached a $490 million settlement with over a thousand survivors who allege that they were sexually assaulted by a former physician in the school's athletic department.

Driving the news: "It's been a long and challenging journey and these survivors have refused to remain silent," attorney Parker Stinar said Wednesday.