Former US Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield Leads Biden-Harris Transition Team for State Department amid President Trump’s Refusal to Concede


Monrovia – United States President-elect Joe Biden has appointed former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas Greenfield to head the Biden-Harris transition team for the State Department.

On Tuesday, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield was among hundreds of experts and former officials named by Mr. Biden to lay the groundwork for the eventual transfer of power at various federal agencies despite President Donald Trump’s ongoing refusal to accept Biden’s election win. 

The Agency review teams are responsible for understanding the operations of each agency, ensuring a smooth transfer of power, and preparing for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their cabinet to hit the ground running on day one.

The teams consist of groups of experts assigned to different agencies—including the State and Defense departments, foreign aid agencies, and the intelligence community to do the groundwork for the transition. 

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, the team lead for the State Department, is a former career diplomat who served in the State Department for decades and held senior posts including Director-general of the Foreign Service and Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs.

At the time she stepped down from her job in 2017 under Rex Tillerson, Trump’s first Secretary of State, she was the highest-ranking African American woman in the State Department.

Current and former diplomats describe Thomas-Greenfield as a highly respected and balanced diplomat. Since leaving the department, she has been an outspoken advocate for reforming the State Department and helping to improve its record on diversity.

Currently, she works as a Senior Vice President at Albright Stonebridge Group, a premier global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm where she leads the firm’s Africa practice.

A Friend of Liberia, Africa

Though members of the agency review teams are not necessarily guaranteed posts in the agencies they are assigned to review, many observers, including those from Liberia – where Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield served with distinction and has declared her second home on several occasions- believe that her return to the State Department in a top-level position will rekindle United States-Africa relations, which has somehow dwindled, thanks to Trump’s America first policy.

Appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2008 as Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield soon became a familiar face, travelling all across Liberia during her three-year stay as Chief Representative of Liberia’s closest ally.

 Upon arriving in Monrovia, she soon became known as the “People’s Ambassador” – reflecting her candor, compassion and commitment to supporting Liberians.

Former President Sirleaf summed up her stay in Liberia when she said, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield had been a “constructive critic, pointing out what needed to be done, and also a strong advocate, whether to get appropriations from the U.S. State Department and the Congress, or encouraging investors for the private sector.”

At a farewell ceremony in 2012, former president Sirleaf named her Liberia’s first postwar Honorary Citizen and conferred on her the distinction of Dame Great Band in the Humane Order of African Redemption.

In awarding her honorary citizenship, Sirleaf said that her Senior Advisor, Ambassador George Wallace, had found an old law in which Liberia gives recognition to Honorary Citizens. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield would receive a passport, and would never need a visa to come to Liberia.

The Citation for the conferral of the distinction of Dame Great Band upon Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield described her as an astute and career diplomat and humanitarian who, because of her devotion to public service, has distinguished herself in the service of God and humanity.

It said that throughout her mission, she nurtured an excellent relationship with the Government of Liberia, other development partners and stakeholders, providing advice and showing the way forward, even under difficult circumstances.

It also cited her dedication to the Defense Sector Reform, as Co-Chair of the Peace and Security Pillar, and for which she was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) from the Government of Liberia on February 11, 2012, Armed Forces Day.

According to an Executive Mansion release, then President Sirleaf, in addressing Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, said: “You have been a partner, representing our Number One partner. In that role, you have helped us to reform our army, to build our infrastructure, both social and economic, to help restore justice and the rule of law, to build an open society.”

Election Gridlock Continues in Washington 

Meanwhile, it has been more than one week since the major networks in the United States projected former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris as winners of the November 3, 2020 polls.

However, President Trump has refused to concede, terming the elections were marred by widespread fraud, though his team of lawyers and the Republican Party have failed to present evidence.

As a result, the Trump administration has not formally kicked off the transition process. The General Services Administration, led by Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, has so far refused to send letter of ascertainment certifying Biden’s win to begin the transition.

The letter is the key to unlocking government funds for the transition teams and to allowing his “landing teams” to get seated inside the federal government to get briefed on the latest intelligence and map out more than 4,000 political appointments, ranging from low-level special assistants to Senate-confirmed jobs.

Despite Trump’s roadblocks, the Biden-Harris transition team appears to be moving forward with routine plans for a transition, downplaying frustrations with Trump’s refusal to accept the election results and not giving any indications that the delays have altered the transition plan.

World Leaders Congratulate Biden and Harris, But Putin, Xi Still Mum

Also, while powerful world leaders including Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China are yet to congratulate President-elect Biden, other top leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the French President, Emmanuel Macron and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have all extended congratulatory messages to Biden and Harris.

In Africa, President George Weah was among the first group of African leaders to recognized former VP Biden as President-elect and sent him best wishes.

President Weah also congratulated Senator Kamala Harris, who was elected as the first female and first black Vice President of the United States.

He said Vice President-Elect Harris’ election will serve as an inspiration to all women and people of color to become whatever they aspire to be, with determination, commitment and hard work.

President Weah said the American President-elect was assuming the leadership of the United States at a very challenging time, when the world is faced with a global health crisis. He called on Americans to forge ahead in “peace and unity”, a reference to the polarized political environment that occasioned the period of electioneering. 

“As Liberia’s traditional ally, we stand ready to further enhance and rekindle our long, historic and unique bilateral relations,” President Weah said.

The two countries have had a longstanding special relationship dating back to the 1800s, when America played a crucial role in Liberia’s foundation.