Biden to nominate William Burns as CIA director

January 11, 2021 - 21:40

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate William Burns as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, CNN has learned, tapping a respected veteran American diplomat who has served in posts around the world from the Reagan to the Obama administrations.

"The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director," Biden said in a statement.

If confirmed, Burns would become the first leader in the CIA's history whose lifelong experience comes from the State Department.

"Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure," Biden said. "He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect."

Biden was drawn to Burns because of his diplomatic experience and his perceived ability to restore credibility to the intelligence agency in the post-Trump era, people familiar with the matter said, along with his expertise on Russia. His selection would bypass other contenders with more formal experience in the intelligence field.

Burns, who is known as Bill, is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, respected international affairs think tank in Washington. He served as deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration after working for more than three decades in positions across the foreign service, which he joined in 1982.

He also served under five American presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, and 10 secretaries of state in a variety of posts, including as ambassador to Jordan in the Clinton administration and to Russia under George W. Bush.

Burns has talked extensively about the damage he believes the Trump administration has inflicted on the United States' foreign policy. He warned of the dangerous consequences of President Donald Trump not accepting election defeat in a prescient essay last August in the Atlantic.

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