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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.

Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.