The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Director of the CIA, Ambassador William Burns, by unanimous consent Thursday.
Burns was confirmed after his nomination had been stalled by Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who expressed concern about the Biden administration’s plan to prevent Russia from building the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. Burns previously served in the State Department for decades, including as Ambassador to Jordan under President Bill Clinton and Ambassador to Jordan and Russia under President George W. Bush. (RELATED: Biden Admin Tells Germany, Russia To ‘Immediately’ Halt Work On Natural Gas Pipeline Or Face New Sanctions)
And there it is… CRUZ says he’s lifting his hold on CIA Director nominee William Burns after Blinken’s “strong declaration” on Nord Stream 2 pic.twitter.com/pHHowWEwsi
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) March 18, 2021
President Biden previously said Burns “shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect.” (RELATED: US Sanctions 24 Officials Over China’s Latest Crackdown On Hong Kong)
After his stint as a diplomat, Burns was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It was reported in February that the think tank received up to $2 million in funding from Chinese business interests and was connected to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Burns invited congressional staffers on a trip to China in 2019, where they met with a professor who worked for the CCP’s central committee, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Chuck Ross. It was also revealed that the founder of a Chinese advocacy group, the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation, gave a speech at the Carnegie Endowment during Burns’ tenure as president.
Burns addressed the reports during his confirmation hearings and claimed he cut ties with some of the Chinese interests during his leadership. Additionally, he said China was a “formidable, authoritarian adversary” that is strengthening its ability “to steal intellectual property, repress its own people, bully its neighbors, expand its global reach, and build influence in American society.”
The new CIA Director also received a “Super Bowl group trip” as a gift from the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. while he was leading the Carnegie Endowment. The Biden administration recently faced criticism for not sanctioning Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for his role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.