WASHINGTON – The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines to be Director of National Intelligence, making her President Biden’s first Cabinet-level official to receive Senate confirmation. The vote was 84-10.
Her confirmation comes after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., briefly held up the process, asking for a written response from her about a question during her confirmation hearing a day before.
“I no longer object,” Cotton said Wednesday evening, noting that Haines had provided him with a response.
“In her open session yesterday, she gave an answer in response to Sen. [Ron] Wyden that suggested the intelligence committee might reopen investigations into detention interrogation programs from 2001-2006,” Cotton explained. “She clarified in the private setting that she had no intention to open up those investigations and expose operations officers inside the CIA to criminal prosecution, or adverse employment action, or even holding it against them in potential future promotions or placements.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had tweeted earlier in the day that he wasn’t attending Biden’s inauguration in order to work to expedite a vote on Haines’ nomination.
“It’s important we do this as soon as possible,” he wrote.
Haines’ confirmation prevents a situation where Biden would begin his presidency with no members of his national security team firmly in place, as is customary.
During her Tuesday confirmation hearing, Haines began her opening statement with tacit criticism of former President Trump.
“When it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics, ever,” she said.
She pledged to declassify an intelligence report about the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and promised an “aggressive response” to China to counter its “illegal and unfair practices.”
Haines, 51, previously served as deputy national security adviser. She also was deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007-2008 when Biden was chairman.
In 2013, former President Obama named her deputy CIA director, the first woman to hold the job.
She now makes history again as the first woman to hold the top job in U.S. intelligence.
When Biden announced Haines in November as his pick to lead the intelligence community, she vowed to “speak truth to power.”
“I’ve worked for you for a long time, and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise and that you value the perspective of the intelligence community,” she said at the time. “And that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult, and I assure you, there will be those