Senate confirms Avril Haines, Biden’s pick to lead U.S. spy agencies

Avril Haines speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee to be President-elect Joe Biden’s national intelligence director in Washington, DC, January 19, 2021.

Joe Raedle | Pool | Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Avril Haines as the director of national intelligence Wednesday evening, making her the first official member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet.

Before adjourning for the evening, the Senate voted 84 to 10 on Haines’ confirmation.

Haines, Biden’s pick to lead the nation’s 18 intelligence agencies, is the first woman to hold the position.

“Our adversaries will not stand by and wait for the new administration to staff critical positions, and I am pleased my Senate colleagues joined me in swiftly confirming Director Haines to this important post,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., acting chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote in a statement.

“Avril Haines was the right choice for Director of National Intelligence,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote in a statement Wednesday evening. “We appreciate the bipartisan cooperation to get her confirmed tonight, and we hope there will be a lot more of it because the nation is in crisis and we need President Biden’s team in place as quickly as possible,” he added.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday evening in her first briefing that assembling Biden’s Cabinet and his national security team is paramount.

On Tuesday, Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee, which voted on her nomination, that one of her main initiatives will be to instill trust in the nation’s intelligence agencies.

“The DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power — even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult,” Haines said. “The DNI must insist that, when it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics — ever.”

Susan Rice (left), Avril Haines, and Lisa Monaco with President Barack Obama in December, 2015.

Pete Souza | The White House | Wikipedia

Before joining the Biden administration, Haines served as former President Barack Obama’s deputy national security advisor.

She also previously served as deputy CIA director. She is the first woman to hold both of those positions.

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