A number of President Joe Biden’s nominees for high-level Cabinet and other government positions are facing intense scrutiny from the other side of the aisle, which is typically par for the course when a new administration takes over the White House.
According to the Daily Caller, Biden’s selection to head up the Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, made an interesting disclosure earlier this week to the Senate Intelligence Committee ahead of his scheduled confirmation hearing, in which he revealed that he’d received a trip to the Super Bowl as a gift from a Saudi Arabian ambassador while working at his last job.
Given the current tensions between America and Saudi Arabia on the heels of the news that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, Burns’ Super Bowl gift is receiving some extra attention.
Who gave him the gift?
Burns spent over three decades in the foreign service, serving under multiple administrations while racking up a long list of commendations and distinguished awards for his time as a career diplomat. For a five-year stretch to end his government career, he served as a deputy secretary of state.
As many career diplomats do, Burns cashed in on his decades of invaluable experience and went to work in the private industry after retiring in 2014, taking the coveted position as the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In a required disclosure form submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burns revealed that an unnamed Saudi Arabian ambassador gifted him a trip to the Super Bowl during his capacity at the prestigious think-tank, though it’s unclear which Super Bowl it was or who, if anyone, was with him on the trip.
Needless to say, a Super Bowl trip with nosebleed seats isn’t exactly cheap, let alone the accommodations that Burns likely was privileged to experience at the time.
In addition to the Super Bowl gift, Burns also revealed that he’s received bottles of wine from a French ambassador, “holiday baskets” from the King of Jordan, more wine from a Georgian ambassador, and a combination of wine and “holiday baskets” from an Italian ambassador.
What happens next?
Because of the recent headlines concerning Saudi Arabia and their involvement in the killing of a journalist, Burns’ close ties to the unnamed ambassador for Saudi Arabia and presumably more Saudi officials, combined with the fact that he’s being tapped to run one of the most powerful spy agencies on the planet, could be cause for concern for some.
However, Burns reportedly skated through his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing without much resistance from either side of the political aisle, even earning bipartisan praise for his decades of experience dealing with some of America’s toughest adversaries, as CBS News reported.
“If I’m confirmed as director of CIA, I will have no higher priority than taking care of people, of colleagues and their families. And I do commit to you that if I’m confirmed, I will make it an extraordinarily high priority to get to the bottom of who’s responsible for the attacks,” Burns said, with regard to mysterious microwave attacks that have been aimed at diplomates and spies since 2016.
Hopefully, if he’s confirmed, Burns can also commit to not accepting lavish gifts from foreign countries while serving as America’s CIA director.