WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. tapped David S. Cohen to return as deputy head of the C.I.A., inserting an official who is aware of the company properly alongside the veteran diplomat he selected to guide it, the Biden transition workforce introduced on Friday.
Mr. Cohen had been considered a top contender to turn into director of the company, however Mr. Biden instead nominated William J. Burns, who has held a wide range of outstanding diplomatic posts. As a result of Mr. Burns has by no means labored for the C.I.A., bringing again Mr. Cohen provides him a deputy who’s trusted contained in the company and might be a probable successor.
And since the deputy place doesn’t require Senate affirmation, Mr. Cohen will have the ability to start work because the appearing C.I.A. director on Inauguration Day, whereas Mr. Burns’s nomination is into account.
In talks with transition officers, Mr. Cohen outlined an bold agenda for the C.I.A. to bolster its work in crucial areas, together with world local weather change and well being points.
Throughout the Obama administration, Mr. Cohen was concerned within the C.I.A. evaluation that Russia sought to intervene within the 2016 election to assist President Trump’s election.
Mr. Cohen informed the Biden transition workforce that intelligence companies should broaden their examination of international interference in the US. Mr. Cohen, in line with folks aware of his views, believes the federal government should transcend election interference to additionally scrutinize how international powers could also be making an attempt to offer help or affect extremist teams.
Mr. Cohen, 57, has a detailed working relationship with Avril D. Haines, Mr. Biden’s nominee to be director of national intelligence. Ms. Haines served as deputy C.I.A. director earlier than Mr. Cohen, and the 2 labored intently collectively on the Nationwide Safety Council “deputies committee.”
Ms. Haines’s affirmation listening to was to be held on Friday, nevertheless it was postponed as Republicans and Democrats debated over how one can schedule a labeled, in-person question-and-answer session amid security issues throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The robust ties between them “will serve the company exceedingly properly,” stated Adm. William H. McRaven, the retired former head of Particular Operations Command. Mr. Cohen, Admiral McRaven added, “has the expertise, the management expertise, the temperament and the respect of your entire intelligence group.”
Present and former intelligence officers spoke warmly of Mr. Cohen’s first stint on the company, noting each his advocacy for the C.I.A. contained in the Obama administration and his potential to shortly win over colleagues.
“He is a good listener,” stated John O. Brennan, a former director. “As quickly as he arrived, he felt very a lot at house, and that was one thing folks detected as a result of he grew to become an ardent supporter and defender of the company.”
Mr. Cohen can be an enthusiastic desk tennis participant, dominating video games at C.I.A. charity fund-raisers, in line with an official.
Extra severely, former officers stated, Mr. Cohen confirmed a deft hand at coping with the issues of C.I.A. line officers. After the 2016 election, he gathered C.I.A. personnel from demographic teams that Mr. Trump had insulted throughout the marketing campaign, together with Muslim and Hispanic officers, telling them the company would proceed to worth range and help their careers, in line with former officers.
Earlier than his first stint on the C.I.A., Mr. Cohen was the Treasury Division’s beneath secretary for terrorism and monetary intelligence from 2011 to 2015. In that position, he presided over a 700-person workforce, traveled extensively and labored with diplomats and international intelligence officers to construct help for the Obama administration’s sanctions towards Iran.
His in-depth information of the Islamic State’s makes an attempt to smuggle oil in 2014 earned him the nickname “financial Batman” within the Obama White Home.
“He got here throughout to officers each at Treasury and at C.I.A. as exceptionally sensible, particularly on points having to do with terrorism and worldwide cash flows,” stated David Priess, a former C.I.A. officer who’s now on the Lawfare Institute. “And so they additionally discovered he’s simply nice to temporary, under no circumstances a tough persona to work with.”
Mr. Cohen, together with Mr. Biden’s different intelligence picks, is anticipated to comply with the suggestions of the Home Intelligence Committee that called for a shift of resources to focus more on China. It’s an space of bipartisan settlement: Republican Home members have additionally pressed for extra assets to counter China, and beneath John Ratcliffe, the director of nationwide intelligence, the Trump administration has directed new efforts to shore up information-gathering on the country.
Mr. Cohen is hardly well-known past Washington, although after the tip of the Obama administration, he made a cameo look as a bedraggled commoner within the HBO collection “Sport of Thrones.” When the C.I.A. posted a picture of his appearance on Twitter, Mr. Cohen joked, “Way to blow my cover!”