Progressive groups vying for influence in the incoming Biden administration scored a victory on Wednesday when it was reported the new White House will tap Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D., Mass.) foreign policy adviser for a role on the influential National Security Council.
Biden is reportedly set to tap Sasha Baker, a former Defense Department official in the Obama administration, to serve as the NSC’s director for strategic planning. Baker is Warren’s national security adviser and was named late last year to a list of progressive political insiders recommended for administration jobs by a vast network of left-leaning advocacy groups.
Baker's selection is certain to please far-left elements of the Democratic Party who are pressuring the next White House to hire a range of individuals widely seen as out of the mainstream. The Washington Free Beacon reported in December that a coalition of progressive groups—including the Progressive Change Institute, Common Defense, the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC)—sent Biden’s transition team a list of more than 100 officials they hope to see in the next administration. The roster included foreign policy hands who have pushed for increased American diplomacy with Iran and a reduced reliance on the traditional U.S.-Israel relationship.
The progressive groups' other selections include Paul Pillar, a former CIA official who has come under fire for accusing Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, a Jewish American, of having dual loyalty to Israel, and Sarah Leah Whitson, who also has been embroiled in controversy over comments viewed as anti-Semitic.
The groups also want to see NIAC cofounder and Quincy Institute official Trita Parsi oversee Middle Eastern affairs on the NSC, a selection that raised eyebrows in many foreign policy circles. Parsi has faced accusations of acting as a lobbyist for the Iranian regime and has used his perch at the Quincy Institute to push for increased diplomacy with Tehran. The Free Beacon reported in December that Parsi could face problems obtaining security clearance given his status as a non-U.S. citizen.
Prior to her work in Warren’s office, Baker was a deputy chief of staff in the Obama administration’s Defense Department. She oversaw the sprawling U.S. defense budget, as well as technology issues, according to a copy of her résumé included in the list of 100 names sent to the Biden administration.