WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden elevated CIA Director William Burns to his cabinet on Friday, a symbolic move that underscores the intelligence chief’s influence and his work in U.S. support for Ukraine.
In a statement, Biden said Burns had “leveraged intelligence to give our country a critical strategic advantage” and credited his “clear and direct analysis that prioritizes the safety and security of the American people.”
Burns has been a central figure in the Biden administration, particularly in the White House’s strategy to declassify intelligence findings that Russia intended to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A career diplomat and former ambassador to Russia, Burns was sent to Moscow months before the war to warn Russian President Vladimir Putin of Washington’s analysis.
In the nearly 18 months since Putin’s invasion, the United States has provided Ukraine with intelligence support, as well as weapons and ammunition. Burns has traveled to kyiv several times to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was also sent in November 2022 to warn Russia not to use nuclear weapons in the conflict.
Burns is known to meet with Biden regularly and often briefs him directly on Ukraine and other global issues. As a cabinet member, he will serve alongside Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, whose office sets the direction of the CIA and other members of the US intelligence community.
“The President’s announcement today recognizes the critical contributions to national security that the Central Intelligence Agency makes every day and reflects his confidence in our work,” Burns said in a statement. “I am honored to serve in this role, representing the tremendous work of our intelligence officers.”
Not all administrations have had senior intelligence officials in their Cabinets. Former President Donald Trump included his directors of national intelligence and directors of the CIA.