During Ms. Haines’s hearing, she promised to take an apolitical approach to intelligence gathering. While she did not mention Mr. Trump’s current director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, by name, she made plain that she would take a different tack. Democrats have accused Mr. Ratcliffe of putting a political slant on the intelligence he presents to the White House and acting more as a partisan aide than an apolitical official with various declassifications and document releases meant to aid Mr. Trump.
“One of the first things I’d like to do is send the clear message to the intelligence community that we are expected to produce apolitical, unvarnished intelligence to the president-elect, to his senior advisers,” Ms. Haines told Senator Angus King, independent of Maine. “The president himself expects that and will expect the intelligence community to provide information regardless of whether or not he wants to hear it.”
She was also asked multiple questions about far-right groups and vowed to assist the F.B.I. and examine attempts by foreign governments to influence extremist organizations in the United States.
Lawmakers peppered her about China and how much of a priority she would place on improving intelligence collection and counterintelligence, but also if she supported an aggressive stance by the Biden administration.
“China is a challenge to our security, to our prosperity, to our values across a range of issues and I do support an aggressive stance,” Ms. Haines said. “That is the place we are now and one that is more assertive than where we had been in the Obama-Biden administration.”
Both Republican and Democratic senators pushed Ms. Haines on the matter. Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, who is set to become chairman of the intelligence committee, said he had been part of an old bipartisan consensus that wrongly concluded the more Beijing was integrated into “the world order,” the more it would follow international norms. Now he said he was concerned about China’s efforts to influence American policymakers, build up its military, dominate new technologies, steal intellectual property and oppress its own people.
In response, Ms. Haines said intelligence agencies needed to focus more on China. While the administration should try to work with China on issues like climate change, in the world of intelligence, Beijing was not a partner.