U.S. counterintelligence chief William Evanina, who recently warned about threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Russia, stepped down on Thursday.
“I am honored and humbled to have been surrounded by amazing, dedicated, and vigilant professionals serving around the nation, and the globe, protecting our great nation. I want to especially thank the women and men of NCSC, and the Intelligence Community, for being the best in the world,” he said via LinkedIn on Thursday.
Evanina added: “Commitment to all the traits which matter most; character, integrity, service, commitment, fidelity, and patriotism is a key reason why we are the best in the world at what we do, and how we do it. I also want [to] thank private sector and academia executives, as well as security leaders, for their partnership in driving public-private awareness and solutions to the complex threats we face as a country.”
Evanina spent decades working in the FBI and most recently, the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC). He was appointed to the NCSC in 2014 and worked to deal with leakers in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s highly publicized leak of classified National Security Administration (NSA) documents.
Two days before his resignation, Evanina warned that one of the “bigger challenges” faced by the Biden administration is the Chinese regime.
“From a threat perspective, Russia is a significant adversary particularly with regard to cyber intrusions, malign influence, and sowing discord in our democracy,” Evanina told Fox News. “However, no country poses a broader, more severe intelligence collection threat to America than China.”
Malign foreign influence, he said in the interview, has increased over the years.
“Specifically, in the last year, with respect to the death of George Floyd, COVID, the vaccine, the election process—we saw foreign adversaries, including China, working diligently to expose and amplify discourse in the U.S.,” he said, noting that the CCP is using social media “stoke the fire” and create discord in the United States.
“China continues to engage in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign against America because we are a democracy, and democracy is bad for China,” Evanina said, noting that “bribery, blackmail, covert dealings with businesses, and an effort to influence American policies and attitudes so that they align with China’s interests globally.”
Evanina said in the interview that Americans should gain a perspective about what malign foreign influence looks like.
Last summer, he said the CCP, Russia, and Iran were working to undermine the Nov. 3 election.
“The American public has a role to play in securing the election, particularly in maintaining vigilance against foreign influence,” stated his report in July. “At the most basic level, we encourage Americans to consume information with a critical eye, check out sources before reposting or spreading messages, practice good cyber hygiene and media literacy, and report suspicious election-related activity to authorities.”