Show an ad over header. AMP

Biden taps veteran career diplomat William Burns to lead CIA

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a career diplomat for over 30 years, to serve as director of the CIA, the transition confirmed Monday.

Why. it matters: If confirmed, Burns would be the first career diplomat to lead the agency. Burns served the State Department in a number of posts around the world from the Reagan to the Obama administrations.


  • "The choice of Burns will disappoint those who wanted a career intelligence officer to succeed Gina Haspel, the current director," writes the Washington Post's David Ignatius.
  • "What’s likely to have appealed to Biden, in addition to his personal comfort level with Burns, is his reputation as a nonpartisan figure who served in hard places — Russia and the Middle East — and over the years developed close relationships with the countries that are the CIA’s key liaison partners."

Background: Burns, who Ignatius writes "is widely viewed as the best Foreign Service officer of his generation," served a number of roles in the foreign service from 1982 until 2014, including an ambassadorship to Russia from 2005 to 2008. He was deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration.

  • Burns was involved in secret backchannel talks with Iran that culminated in the 2015 nuclear deal, which Biden faces the daunting task of attempting to revive after he takes office.
  • He also has experience dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has grown more aggressive in his foreign policy over the last decade, telling Axios in November, "We’re going to be operating within a pretty narrow band of possibilities in dealing with Vladimir Putin’s Russia — from the sharply competitive to the pretty nastily adversarial."

The big picture: At an Axios event in September, Burns said the U.S. should carve out a new role for itself on the global stage — neither isolationist nor swaggering superpower.

  • "Recognizing and deepening that connection between foreign policy and domestic renewal, I think, is going to be the single deepest challenge for several administrations to come," Burns said.

What they're saying: "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 in a statement.

  • "He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect."

Schumer: Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

Why it matters: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice for “incitement of insurrection" after a violent pro-Trump mob breached the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.

Keep reading... Show less

CDC shifts COVID vaccine guidance, expanding minimum interval between doses for exceptional cases

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Keep reading... Show less

Texas attorney general sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden administration unveils 3-pronged plan to combat domestic extremism

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced at a briefing on Friday that the Biden administration will roll out a three-pronged, interagency plan to assess and combat the thread by domestic violence extremism.

Why it matters: The federal government's approach to domestic extremism has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. In his inaugural address, Biden repudiated political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism, vowing to defeat them.

Keep reading... Show less

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

Keep reading... Show less

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is constitutionally required to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. the day after the article is transmitted. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been pushing for the trial to begin in mid-February, arguing that it will force the Senate to delay other important business.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.

Keep reading... Show less

New Energy Department roles look to animate Biden's campaign themes

The burst of Biden administration staffing picks announced yesterday revealed that the Energy Department (DOE) has newly created roles that reflect what President Biden called campaign priorities.

Driving the news: One new position is "director of energy jobs," which is being filled by Jennifer Jean Kropke. She was previously the first director of workforce and environmental engagement with Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories