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Biden administration names intelligence official to counter election threats

Jeffrey Wichman was named election threats executive by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
Image: Avril Haines, U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Capitol Hill, on April 14, 2021.Graeme Jennings / Pool via Reuters file
/ Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Friday named a career CIA official to coordinate the intelligence community's response to election threats from Russia, China and other adversaries.

Jeffrey Wichman was named election threats executive by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, said Nicole de Haay, a spokeswoman for Haines. Wichman has served at the CIA for more than 30 years including in top counterintelligence and cybersecurity roles, de Haay said. His appointment was first reported by The New York Times.

The appointment comes amid stalled efforts to create a new intelligence center preventing foreign interference in American democracy. While experts and intelligence officials say the proposed Foreign Malign Influence Center is needed, a proposal to create the center is stalled amid disagreements over the center's size and budget.

The election threats executive is responsible for coordinating all election security efforts across the 18-member intelligence community, which include agencies that detect and deter cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns and efforts to influence politicians and policy debates.

The previous executive, Shelby Pierson, was in the spotlight after giving a closed-door briefing to lawmakers on Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump. That angered Trump, who berated the then-director of national intelligence and later replaced him.

Pierson has since taken another intelligence post.