But the hearing was delayed after objections that it be held on an expedited basis. It was to be conducted virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic and heightened security at the Capitol after last week’s attack by a pro-Trump mob seeking to overturn the results of the November presidential election.
“Despite the unusual circumstances on Capitol Hill, the committee is working in good faith to move this nominee as fast as possible and ensure the committee’s members have an opportunity to question the nominee in both open and closed settings,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the acting committee chairman, and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman, said in a statement.
Biden transition spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Thursday night that Haines “was looking forward to appearing before the Committee tomorrow.”
“We are disappointed the hearing was delayed, particularly given the urgency to have national security leaders in place in this time of crisis,” Price said. “Nevertheless, DNI-designate Haines eagerly awaits the opportunity to answer the Committee’s questions next week.”
Haines would become the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence, a position created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to improve coordination and information-sharing among the CIA, the National Security Agency, the FBI and other intelligence agencies.
Haines would assume the job after an extraordinary period of tension between President Trump and the intelligence community, which he has long portrayed as a den of conspirators who tried to undermine his administration. Trump also has sought to declassify information about the probe into Russian election interference in 2016 and potential links to his campaign, disclosures that some intelligence officials say jeopardized sources.
Haines was the first senior intelligence official Biden announced, a signal that he intends for the DNI to play a leading role in his administration. Intelligence officials have long said the DNI should act as a conductor of the intelligence agencies, but former directors have had limited success getting all the agencies to play from the same sheet of music.
This week, Biden announced that he was nominating William J. Burns, a longtime diplomat, as the director of the CIA, and that the position will no longer be part of the Cabinet. That was another signal, observers said, that Biden hopes to enhance the DNI’s clout and position Haines as the leader.