WASHINGTON – 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 supporting the United States in 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 puts the security of the American people first.»
Burns has been a central figure in the Biden administration, particularly in the White House strategy to declassify intelligence findings that Russia intended to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Burns, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Russia, was sent to Moscow months before the war to warn Russian President Vladimir Putin about Washington’s analysis.
In the nearly 18 months since Putin invaded, the United States has provided intelligence support to Ukraine along with weapons and ammunition. Burns has repeatedly gone to kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He too was sent in November 2022 to warn Russia not to use nuclear weapons in the conflict.
Burns is known to meet regularly with Biden, often briefing him directly on Ukraine and other world issues. As a Cabinet member, he will serve alongside Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, whose office directs the CIA, and other members of the US intelligence community.
«Today’s President’s announcement recognizes the essential 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 top intelligence officials in their cabinet. Former President Donald Trump included his national intelligence directors and CIA directors.