William J. Burns has been vocal in his belief that American diplomacy has been damaged during the Trump administration.
Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

President-elect Joseph R. Biden has selected William J. Burns, a career State Department official who led the U.S. delegation in secret talks with Iran, to run the Central Intelligence Agency.

In selecting Mr. Burns, Mr. Biden is turning to an experienced diplomat with whom he has a long relationship. The two men have worked together on various foreign policy issues, not just during the Obama administration, but also while Mr. Biden led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Burns has also long worked with Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s pick for national security adviser, and has been influential in helped foster the younger man’s career.

Mr. Biden’s choice sends a message that American intelligence will not be influenced by politics.

In a statement early Monday, the president-elect said that Mr. Burns “shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect.”

Still, Mr. Burns’ experience is as a consumer of intelligence, not as a producer. C.I.A. directors are expected to put aside their policy recommendations and focus on information and prediction. Still, former agency officials have asserted the most important quality in a director is not expertise in intelligence, but a relationship with the president, which Mr. Burns has.

During his presidency, President Trump has undermined and dismissed intelligence officials and has called them “passive” and “naïve” in their analysis of national security threats posed by Iran.

Currently, Mr. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He has been vocal in his belief that American diplomacy has been damaged in the Trump administration.

Described as a “steady hand” and a “very effective firefighter,” by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Burns spent 32 years at the State Department, where he was the American ambassador to Moscow and Jordan, and in high-level leadership positions in Washington.

Mr. Burns has been a trusted diplomat in Republican and Democratic administrations. He has played a role in the agency’s most prominent, and painful, moments over the past two decades.

In 2012, he accompanied the bodies of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on a C-17 flight from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to Washington after the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, Libya. In 2002, Mr. Burns wrote a memo he titled “The Perfect Storm,” which highlighted the dangers of American intervention in Iraq.

Mr. Burns retired from the State Department in 2014.

For a time, Michael J. Morell, a former deputy director of the C.I.A., was considered the leading candidate for the top agency post. But some Democratic senators voiced public and private reservations. Senate liberals, including Ron Wyden of Oregon, opposed picking Mr. Morell, accusing him of defending torture. Mr. Morell’s representatives said Mr. Wyden had inaccurately portrayed his record and comments about the C.I.A. interrogation program.

Earlier, Thomas E. Donilon, a former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, withdrew his name from consideration for the post. David Cohen, a former deputy director of the C.I.A., had also been considered.

A key question will be how Mr. Burns can work with Avril D. Haines, Mr. Biden’s choice to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The Biden transition team has said Ms. Haines will be the senior intelligence official in the administration and does not intend to make the C.I.A. director a formal member of the cabinet. In past administrations, there have often been tension between the director of national intelligence and the C.I.A. director.

Mr. Burns was considered a likely candidate to run the State Department in the incoming Biden administration. He could prove critical in helping Mr. Biden restart discussions with Tehran after Mr. Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The House on Monday plans to introduce a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip President Trump of the powers of his office.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi escalated the pressure on Mr. Pence in a letter to colleagues on Sunday, calling on him to respond “within 24 hours” and indicated she expected a Tuesday vote on the resolution. Democrats planned to try to pass the resolution by unanimous consent on Monday, but it is expected to fail.

Next, she said, the House would bring an impeachment case to the floor. Though she did not specify how quickly it would move, leading Democrats have suggested they could press forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Mr. Trump by midweek with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

“In protecting our Constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this president represents an imminent threat to both,” she wrote in the letter. “As the days go by, the horror of the ongoing assault on our democracy perpetrated by this president is intensified and so is the immediate need for action.”

Ms. Pelosi’s actions in effect gave Mr. Pence, who is said to be opposed to the idea, an ultimatum: use his power under the Constitution to force Mr. Trump out by declaring him unable to discharge his duties, or make him the first president in American history to be impeached twice.

With few Democrats hopeful Mr. Pence would act, Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the party’s No. 3, said the House could vote to impeach Mr. Trump by Wednesday, one week before Inauguration Day. Lawmakers were put on notice to return to Washington, and their leaders consulted with the Federal Air Marshal Service and law enforcement on how to safely move them back into a Capitol that was ransacked in a shocking security failure less than a week ago.

“If we are the people’s house, let’s do the people’s work and let’s vote to impeach this president,” Mr. Clyburn said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The Senate will decide later what to do with that impeachment.”

In a separate interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Mr. Clyburn suggested that Ms. Pelosi was considering impeaching now but not sending the article to the Senate for trial for weeks — possibly until after Mr. Biden’s first 100 days in office. The Senate must immediately begin a trial when it receives impeachment articles, but it cannot begin one without them.

“Let’s give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” said Mr. Clyburn, an influential ally to the incoming president. “And maybe we will send the articles sometime after that.”

Pressure against the president continued to build, including from some Republicans. Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania became the second Republican senator to call for Mr. Trump to resign, joining Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. But a day after he called Mr. Trump’s conduct “impeachable,” Mr. Toomey argued an impeachment would be impractical with Mr. Trump already headed for the exit.

As of Sunday morning, 210 of 222 Democrats — nearly a majority of the chamber — had signed onto the article of impeachment drawn up by Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Ted Lieu of California. It charges Mr. Trump with “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.”

Melania Trump, the first lady, who had not spoken publicly since sending well wishes on New Year’s Day, urged people to “listen to one another.”
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

In her first public comments since rioters stormed the Capitol five days ago, Melania Trump, the first lady, said on Monday that she was “disappointed and disheartened with what happened last week” but did not address her husband’s role in encouraging the attack.

Mrs. Trump, who had not released a statement since wishing the public well on New Year’s Day, urged people to “listen to one another” and implored people to “stop the violence.” She said she was praying for the families of those killed on Wednesday or in its aftermath, starting with a list of four Trump supporters who died — including one who was shot during the attack inside the Capitol — before the officers defending it.

Though the tone was mostly reconciliatory, she first struck back at perceived critics.

“I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me — from people who are looking to be relevant and have an agenda,” she said. “This time is solely about healing our country and its citizens. It should not be used for personal gain.”

Last week, a former staff member for the first lady, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, strongly criticized Mrs. Trump in The Daily Beast, writing that she had “blood on her hands.”

Mrs. Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, was among the White House officials to resign after the violence on Wednesday.

Mrs. Trump has mostly remained silent on her husband’s efforts to overturn the election. In her one public statement on the matter, on Nov. 8, she wrote on Twitter that “every legal — not illegal — vote should be counted.”

She has focused instead on nonpolitical matters, including holiday celebrations, a monument that pays tribute to women’s suffrage and the completion of a tennis court at the White House.

On Monday, she asked people to “focus on what unites us, and rise above what divides us.”

“It is inspiring to see that so many have found a passion and enthusiasm in participating in an election, but we must not allow that passion to turn to violence,” she said. “Our path forward is to come together, find our commonalities, and be the kind and strong people that I know we are.”

President Trump on a news monitor in the White House briefing room on Wednesday, where a video clip he uploaded to Twitter addressing the mob at the Capitol was playing.
Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

His public persona was a product of television for decades.

Through “The Apprentice,” he built a fantasy version of himself as a tough-minded chief executive of a global business empire and a self-made billionaire. His wrestling match-style rallies helped him dominate television during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ever attuned to how he was playing and the power of ratings, he personally chose which anchors he wanted to interview him, and persuaded hosts to allow him to simply phone into their Sunday shows.

But as his campaign played out and his presidency began, Donald J. Trump, the master of the small screen, evolved gradually into a different character, @realdonaldtrump, whose itchy Twitter finger became many things at once: an agenda-setter for the day’s coverage, a weapon against his rivals, a way of firing aides and cabinet secretaries, a grenade he could throw at Republican lawmakers who had crossed him and reporters whose coverage he hated, a window into his psyche, and most of all, an unfiltered pipeline to his supporters.

Now, his Twitter account yanked away from him permanently, President Trump faces the challenge, for both his remaining days in the White House and in a post-presidency, of how to thrust himself into the conversation on his own terms.

He spent the first weekend of his presidency without his Twitter account cycling through fury and acceptance, ultimately telling people he was fine without it. He maintained that being “silenced” would infuriate his supporters.

Even without Twitter, and even under a new threat of impeachment, Mr. Trump remains until Jan. 20 the most powerful man in the world, with access to the White House briefing room, the East Room and the Oval Office to communicate his thoughts. He has a press office devoted to issuing his statements and a cadre of reporters assigned to cover what he says and does.

But while his presidency has often been compared to a reality television show, Mr. Trump has personally moved away from relying first and foremost on the medium that built him into the celebrity he was before running for office and that propelled him to the White House.





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