JONATHAN TURLEY:  The Rasputin Effect: Biden Moves To Make Podesta the Climate Czar With A Crown… or a Confirmation.

With the departure of John Kerry as “climate czar,” President Biden has announced that he will be replaced by John Podesta, a Democratic powerbroker and Washington insider.

Podesta, however, will take the power and not the title. He will be appointed as “coordinator,” thus sidestepping confirmation by the Senate, which could have been brutal.

Such action will shield Podesta from questions about Kerry’s work and expenses as climate czar. Before leaving office, Kerry refused to turn over information on his staff to Congress and the public. The Biden Administration is now being sued over the secrecy.

It would also spare Podesta from answering questions over his own past work as well as his brother’s ties to Chinese companies. Likewise, senators, including Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, have criticized Podesta for comments favoring payments to Chinese companies in the energy sector.

See also: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s impromptu disappearance late last December and early January.

It is inexcusable that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin concealed his multiday medical incapacity from President Joe Biden and top Pentagon officials, including his own Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks. By his actions, Austin has shown a catastrophic inability to recognize the responsibilities of his office or the basic principles of strategic leadership.

It would be bad enough if the transportation secretary did what Austin did. But when a defense secretary acts in such a manner, the stakes are much higher. And he chose to have elective surgery when hot spots in different parts of the world are in flames. Austin endangered national security out of a vain and misguided sense of personal privacy. This sends a message to U.S. adversaries that Washington is dysfunctional at the highest levels. Austin should be relieved of his position.

The incident underlines the broader chaos within the Biden administration and the wholly earned lack of respect in which subordinates hold their commander in chief. Obsessed with the 2024 election, the White House appears to believe its top priority is to press the media into more positive coverage of the president and more negative coverage of his challengers in the GOP. But as the president and his team focus narrowly on domestic partisan politics, the world grows more insecure.

Team Biden’s chaotic priorities are further underlined by the fact that Hicks was vacationing in Puerto Rico during her boss’s incapacity. In essence, the acting U.S. defense secretary was living the beach life unaware that she was actually in charge of the U.S. military. It’s unclear whether Austin transferred all his authorities to Hicks or just some of them.

Fortunately, “Team Biden” appears to have actually learned from their mistakes last month: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is moved to the critical care unit at Walter Reed after tests on ’emergent bladder issues’ as he passes duties to his deputy for second time in a month following his prostate cancer surgery. “Earlier Sunday, it was announced Austin has had his duties stripped and transferred to deputy Kathleen Hicks.”