Avril D. Haines, President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s nominee to be the next director of national intelligence, told senators on Tuesday that she would assist the F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security with a public written assessment of the threat from QAnon.
The topic came up at Ms. Haines’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, nearly two weeks after the Capitol was infiltrated by a pro-Trump mob, including some followers of QAnon, a wide-ranging online conspiracy movement that has falsely claimed that President Trump is on a crusade to rid the world of satanic pedophiles organized by the Democratic Party and Hollywood celebrities.
Several Democratic senators on Tuesday asked Ms. Haines about the threat of right-wing extremist groups. In her responses, Ms. Haines had to walk a fine line, as the intelligence agencies are restricted in the information they can collect about Americans and American groups.
She said that if she was confirmed, she would make sure the intelligence agencies “look at connections between folks in the U.S. and externally and foreign,” but made clear that the F.B.I. and Homeland Security must take the lead on such investigations.
She also said that she would help establish a foreign malign influence center in the intelligence community.
Senator Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, asked Ms. Haines about a letter he wrote to the F.B.I. and Homeland Security Department about QAnon’s “spread of disinformation.”
Mr. Heinrich asked Ms. Haines if she would commit to helping with that assessment. She said she would look for answers on how “foreign influence operations” are affecting QAnon.
“The intelligence community is focused on foreign intelligence and on foreign threats,” she said. “But there is a critical role that it can play and does play in supporting the work that’s done by others.”