WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. tapped David S. Cohen to return as deputy head of the C.I.A., putting an official who is aware of the company effectively alongside the veteran diplomat he selected to steer it, the Biden transition staff introduced on Friday.
Mr. Cohen had been considered a top contender to change into director of the company, however Mr. Biden instead nominated William J. Burns, who has held quite a lot of distinguished 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 may very well be a possible successor.
And since the deputy place doesn’t require Senate affirmation, Mr. Cohen will be capable of start work because the performing C.I.A. director on Inauguration Day, whereas Mr. Burns’s nomination is into account.
In talks with transition officers, Mr. Cohen outlined an formidable agenda for the C.I.A. to bolster its work in essential areas, together with world local weather change and well being points.
In the course of 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 advised the Biden transition staff that intelligence companies should increase their examination of international interference in america. Mr. Cohen, in response to folks acquainted with his views, believes the federal government should transcend election interference to additionally scrutinize how international powers could also be attempting to offer assist or affect extremist teams.
Mr. Cohen, 57, has an in depth 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 tips on how to schedule a categorized, in-person question-and-answer session amid security considerations in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
The sturdy ties between them “will serve the company exceedingly effectively,” mentioned Adm. William H. McRaven, the retired former head of Particular Operations Command. Mr. Cohen, Admiral McRaven added, “has the expertise, the management abilities, the temperament and the respect of all the intelligence neighborhood.”
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 capacity to shortly win over colleagues.
“He is a superb listener,” mentioned John O. Brennan, a former director. “As quickly as he arrived, he felt very a lot at dwelling, 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 response to an official.
Extra significantly, former officers mentioned, Mr. Cohen confirmed a deft hand at coping with the considerations of C.I.A. line officers. After the 2016 election, he gathered C.I.A. personnel from demographic teams that Mr. Trump had insulted in the course of the marketing campaign, together with Muslim and Hispanic officers, telling them the company would proceed to worth variety and assist their careers, in response to former officers.
Earlier than his first stint on the C.I.A., Mr. Cohen was the Treasury Division’s below secretary for terrorism and monetary intelligence from 2011 to 2015. In that position, he presided over a 700-person staff, traveled extensively and labored with diplomats and international intelligence officers to construct assist 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 good, particularly on points having to do with terrorism and worldwide cash flows,” mentioned David Priess, a former C.I.A. officer who’s now on the Lawfare Institute. “They usually additionally discovered he’s simply nice to temporary, by no means a troublesome persona to work with.”
Mr. Cohen, together with Mr. Biden’s different intelligence picks, is anticipated to observe 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 below 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 sequence “Recreation of Thrones.” When the C.I.A. posted a picture of his appearance on Twitter, Mr. Cohen joked, “Way to blow my cover!”