President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday that he had chosen former career diplomat William Burns to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
“The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director,” Biden said in a statement.
A former ambassador to Russia and Jordan, Burns is the last major nomination for Biden, who takes office in nine days. He most recently served as deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama and has held other diplomatic posts over a three-decade career in Republican and Democratic administrations.
“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.”
If confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first career diplomat to serve as CIA director, according to the Biden team.
He would also succeed Gina Haspel, the first female CIA director, who has guided the agency under President Donald Trump since May 2018. The president has frequently disparaged the assessments of U.S. spy agencies, especially about Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
Burns, who speaks Russian, Arabic and French, retired from the foreign service in 2014 after 33 years and was only the second career diplomat in history to become deputy secretary of state. He also served in a number of national security positions across five presidential administrations, according to the Biden team.
After retiring from the foreign service, Burns became president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international affairs think tank headquartered in Washington.
Amid tumult in the State Department after Trump took office in 2017, Burns held his tongue until last year when he began writing highly critical pieces of the Trump administration's policies in Foreign Affairs and other publications, according to The Associated Press.
In an article for Foreign Affairs in October 2019, Burns said Trump had pursued a "diplomacy of narcissism, bent on advancing private interests at the expense of our national interests."
Burns was educated at LaSalle University in Philadelphia and Britain's Oxford University.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.