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Who is Avril Haines, Biden’s director of national intelligence pick? The ex-CIA deputy director once owned a Baltimore book cafe.

Avril Haines, former deputy national security adviser and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January 2020 in Washington on the topic of “From Sanctions to the Soleimani Strike to Escalation: Evaluating the Administration's Iran Policy."
Avril Haines, former deputy national security adviser and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January 2020 in Washington on the topic of “From Sanctions to the Soleimani Strike to Escalation: Evaluating the Administration's Iran Policy." (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Among those President-elect Joe Biden has named to serve in his administration is a woman who once owned a book cafe in Baltimore’s Fells Point.

Biden said Monday he intends to nominate Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. If confirmed, Haines would be the first woman to serve in the role.

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Haines also was the first woman to be deputy director of the CIA and served as former President Barack Obama’s principal deputy national security adviser. Haines has worked with Biden for more than a decade, Biden’s transition team said in a news release.

Biden announced Haines along with the nomination or appointment of several other senior officials, including Antony Blinken for secretary of state and former Secretary of State John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate.

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In this Nov. 17, 2020, file photo President-elect Joe Biden arrives with Avril Haines, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, left, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware.
In this Nov. 17, 2020, file photo President-elect Joe Biden arrives with Avril Haines, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, left, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative,” Biden said in the news release. “Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits — or without diversity of background and perspective. It’s why I’ve selected them.”

Biden introduced his picks Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, calling Haines “eminently qualified.”

“I picked a professional,” Biden said Tuesday. “A fierce advocate for telling the truth and leveling it with the decision makers. ... I know because I’ve worked with her for over a decade. Brilliant. Humble. Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes, and running a bookstore cafe, all in a single conversation — because she’s done all of that.”

Here are a few things to know about Haines, who has a history in Baltimore:

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What are Avril Haines’ ties to Baltimore?

Haines, 51, was born into a Manhattan household to two scientist parents, Adrian Rappin and Thomas Haines, according to a 2013 article in Newsweek. Rappin became an artist whose oil paintings appeared in The New York Times.

Her mother had tuberculosis, and her health deteriorated when Haines was young, Newsweek reported. Haines was responsible for taking care of her mother by the age of 12. Her mother died when she was a teenager.

Avril Haines and her husband, David Davighi, owned and operated Adrian's Book Cafe in Fells Point, an eclectic store that paid tribute to her mother and also sponsored erotica readings.
Avril Haines and her husband, David Davighi, owned and operated Adrian's Book Cafe in Fells Point, an eclectic store that paid tribute to her mother and also sponsored erotica readings. (Lloyd Fox / XX)

After receiving a degree in physics from the University of Chicago, Haines moved to Baltimore to pursue a doctorate at Johns Hopkins University. But Haines dropped out and followed another dream, opening Adrian’s Book Cafe in Fells Point, an eclectic bookstore cafe at 714 S. Broadway with her husband, David Davighi.

The store paid tribute to her mother, featuring her paintings. It became known for monthly readings of erotic literature.

“Erotica has become more prevalent because people are trying to have sex without having sex,” Haines told The Sun. “Others are trying to find new fantasies to make their monogamous relationships more satisfying. ... What the erotic offers is spontaneity, twists and turns. And it affects everyone.”

“The atmosphere in this cozy room with red candles resembles a slightly-awkward dinner party for eight,” The Sun wrote in 1995.

Haines also was the president of the Fells Point Business Association in the 1990s before giving up the bookstore to pursue her law degree from Georgetown University and taking her career in another direction.

President Barack Obama meets with national security staff in the Oval Office in an undated photo. From left are: Douglas E. Lute, senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Jeff Eggers, director for Afghanistan and Central Region; David Holmes director for Afghanistan; National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; Avril Haines, deputy counsel to the president; and Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough.
President Barack Obama meets with national security staff in the Oval Office in an undated photo. From left are: Douglas E. Lute, senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan; Jeff Eggers, director for Afghanistan and Central Region; David Holmes director for Afghanistan; National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; Avril Haines, deputy counsel to the president; and Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough. (Rex Features/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

What government experience does Haines have?

From 2007 to 2008, Haines served as the deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Biden chaired at the time, according to Biden’s transition team.

In 2010, she first joined the Obama administration, serving as the National Security Council’s legal adviser, according to the transition. From 2013 to 2015, Haines was deputy director of the CIA, the first woman to hold the agency’s No. 2 spot.

After that, Haines served as an assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration until President Donald Trump took over 2017, according to the transition. She then went to work at Columbia University in multiple roles.

In 2018, Haines favored Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA director, which some opposed due to her past involvement with the CIA’s secret prisons. She also was named a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in 2018.

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