President Biden’s Central Intelligence Agency nominee, William Burns, was given a Super Bowl group trip by a Saudi Arabian ambassador when he served as president of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, according to responses he provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee ahead of his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
It is unknown which year he received the Super Bowl trip, or who else was invited to attend.
This revelation comes amid President Biden’s plans to call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday, ahead of the public release of a potentially damning report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
If the call happens as scheduled, it will be Biden’s first conversation as president with the Saudi king. While they are likely to discuss a range of issues, the conversation may be uncomfortable with the imminent release of the explosive report expected to involve one of the monarch’s sons, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the heir-designate to the throne.
While Burns was accepting Super Bowl perks from Saudi Arabian ambassadors, he also was closely affiliated with prominent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, welcoming Zhang Yichen onto Carnegie’s board. Zhang is a Chinese businessman linked to two major CCP organizations, the Chinese People’s Political Consultive Conference and the Center for China Globalization.
Zhang’s firm, along with the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation, an organization connected to the CCP and responsible for “United Front” work in the U.S., gave Carnegie millions of dollars to help build the think tank’s Beijing-based Carnegie-Tsinghua center.
Burns joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in 2015, after leaving the State Department, where he served as deputy secretary of state.