Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Animation: Nathan Goodell/The Strangeworks

This is a new "Axios on HBO" column on the reality behind the curtain of the powerful, by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen.

Joe Biden confidants are privately discussing potential leaders and Cabinet members for his White House, including the need to name a woman or African American — perhaps both — as vice president, top sources tell "Axios on HBO." 

Why it matters: Biden advisers describe a Return to Normal plan — a reversal of President Trump's unorthodox, improvisational style. Biden wants known, trusted people around him — many from the Obama years.

Several high-profile possibilities:

  • John Kerry would love to take a new Cabinet position devoted to climate change, or might even accept a curtain call to return as secretary of state.
  • Susan Rice, formerly President Obama's national security adviser, is another option for State.
  • Mike Bloomberg, who swiftly endorsed Biden after the former mayor's campaign collapsed, would be a top possibility to head the World Bank.
  • Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general under Obama who stood up to Trump and was fired, would be a leading contender for attorney general.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Treasury secretary could help unite the party.
  • Jamie Dimon — chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and mentioned over the years as a potential presidential candidate — would also be considered for Treasury.
  • Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, is another possibility for Treasury.

Biden advisers expect Pete Buttigieg to get a prominent slot after his swift endorsement of Biden — perhaps as ambassador to the UN, or as U.S. trade representative.

  • Both would help credential Buttigieg for a future national campaign.

Behind the curtain: Campaign officials say the name game isn't where Biden's head is — he knows he has major primary and general-election fights ahead.

  • Officials point out they don't yet have a transition — and haven't run a process that would surface new talent, like Dr. Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize physicist who was Obama's first secretary of energy.

But it's a sign of the sudden optimism around his candidacy that some in his circle of trust are starting to think down the road, starting with the V.P. pick:

  • Some Biden advisers hope he could overcome hard feelings from the Obama years and pick Warren for V.P. to excite party progressives.
  • Also high on the list of potential Biden picks for #2 are several African Americans: Sen. Kamala Harris (first on many lists) and Sen. Cory Booker, both of whom ended their nomination fights before the voting began ... former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who ended his presidential campaign after New Hampshire ... and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who electrifies crowds.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in the mix, too. 

Others who could bring diversity and relative youth to the ticket include Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Rep. Val Demings of Florida, who got high marks as a House impeachment manager.

  • One adviser told us when we asked who the V.P. pick would be: "Whoever Jim Clyburn wants it to be."
  • Indeed, Biden feels Clyburn — the South Carolinian who is the highest ranking African American in Congress — helped raise him from the dead with his endorsement. Black voters on Super Tuesday sealed Biden's political salvation. 

Another swath of likely picks are comfort food — longtime loyalists who are integral to the campaign:

  • Tom Donilon, national security adviser under Obama, would be considered for CIA director, director of national intelligence, or secretary of state.
  • Tony Blinken, deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under Obama, could go to State or become national security adviser.
  • The chief of staff would likely be Ron Klain, who held that job for him when he was veep.
  • Steve Ricchetti could be counselor, along with Mike Donilon, Biden's longtime political guru.
  • Anita Dunn, who helped turn around the campaign and bring in more money, also might go inside.
  • Ditto Ambassador Cathy Russell, a top State Department official for Obama who earlier was chief of staff to Dr. Jill Biden.
  • Ted Kaufman, former senator from Delaware, has been in Biden's inner circle forever. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware also might get a big job.

The sources see Harris as a promising choice for attorney general if she's not on the ticket.

  • Michèle Flournoy, an Obama undersecretary of defense, would be the favorite to run Biden's Pentagon.
  • Morgan Stanley exec Tom Nides could get secretary of commerce, trade rep or some other top post.

The bottom line: Biden, a throw-back institutionalist, relishes an emphasis on governing, norms and restoring alliances. 

  • That includes respect for experts, and for the art and science of governing.
  • This evolving plan is all in Biden's comfort zone — all meant to send a public signal of stability.
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Scammers seize on COVID confusion

Data: FTC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Scamming has skyrocketed in the past year, and much of the increase is attributed to COVID-related scams, more recently around vaccines.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a prime opportunity for scammers to target people who are already confused about the chaotic rollouts of things like stimulus payments, loans, contact tracing and vaccines. Data shows that older people who aren't digitally literate are the most vulnerable.

13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to Iranian-backed militia groups was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.