Biden taps former deputy CIA director Cohen for spy agency again

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Joe Biden on Friday named former Deputy CIA Director David Cohen to reprise his role at the U.S. intelligence agency as he continued to fill out top roles for his administration.

Cohen previously served as the deputy director for the Central Intelligence Agency from 2015 to 2017 under Democratic then-President Barack Obama, when Biden served as vice president. Cohen would serve under longtime U.S. diplomat William Burns, Biden’s nominee for CIA director.

“Cohen is a national security, finance and legal expert,” Biden’s transition team said in a statement, noting his work leading “special projects on new technologies and how best to work with companies to advance the CIA’s mission.”

The former lawyer also previously served as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the U.S. Treasury Department, where he dealt with terrorism financing and oversaw sanctions against countries such as Iran, Russia and North Korea.

The president-elect’s transition team also said New York City’s emergency coordinator, Deanne Criswell, would lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the federal government’s response to wildfires, hurricanes and other disasters.

Biden also picked one of his most closest confidants from his presidential campaign, Anita Dunn, to join the White House as a senior adviser.

Dunn, who helped Biden prepare for debates and was a key influence on the campaign’s planning and communication strategy, will be one of several political strategists with long personal ties with Biden who will now surround him in office.

The transition also named deputy-level officials for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Office of Management and Budget.

It also separately announced several more top leaders to help with Biden’s COVID-19 response, including former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler to help lead the vaccine effort.

Reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington and Trevor Hunnicutt in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Lisa Lambert, Catherine Evans and Jonathan Oatis