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Rufus Gifford, right, and his husband, Stephen DeVincent, at a 2017 royal reception in Denmark for the diplomatic corps. Photo: Ole Jensen- Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Joe Biden is poised to tap Rufus Gifford, a former ambassador to Denmark and LGBTQ advocate, as chief of protocol at the State Department, according to people familiar with the consideration.

Why it matters: In selecting Gifford for the high-profile role, Biden is opting for a diplomat and fundraiser who achieved celebrity status overseas to help repair relationships across the globe by showcasing the best of America at home.

The chief of protocol oversees not only State Department functions but also Blair House, the presidential guest house across from the White House. He or she routinely travels with the president, ensuring all formalities are arranged with foreign governments.

  • The chief's hand also is usually the first shaken by a dignitary upon arriving in the United States.
  • Gifford will also act as a liaison between the foreign diplomatic corps in Washington and the Biden administration.

Tapping Gifford for those honors also rewards a loyal campaign official.

  • The Massachusetts native was supportive of 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg, a fellow openly gay political figure, but Gifford endorsed Biden at a crucial time, when his campaign was lagging in January 2020.
  • Gifford received a Danish television award for a documentary series — "I am the Ambassador from America" — that he participated in while serving as ambassador.
  • His selection adds to the diversity Biden has promised for his Cabinet and other significant administration positions.

The big picture: Biden is filling out his diplomatic apparatus with Obama administration veterans.

  • He's tapped Tony Blinken, who previously served as State Department deputy secretary, to now serve as secretary of state.
  • He will nominate Wendy Sherman, who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, to serve as Blinken's deputy.
  • In addition, the president-elect is nominating Victoria Nuland, a longtime Foreign Service Officer and Obama-era veteran, to fill the State Department's powerful political affairs role.

The bottom line: Some congressional Democrats continue to call on Biden to nominate people of color in the upper ranks of the State Department.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anita Dunn to join Biden White House as senior adviser

Anita Dunn speak onstage at 'Women Rule: The L.A. Summit' at NeueHouse Hollywood on June 5, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Veteran communications and campaign strategist Anita Dunn will join Joe Biden's White House on a temporary basis, helping him to advance his opening agenda from inside the West Wing, people familiar with the plans tell Axios.

The big picture: Dunn, a former communications director to President Barack Obama, took on an expanded role in Biden's campaign when it faltered last winter, helping guide it through a party nomination and general election victory.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.