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While Some Senators Are Disturbed by Haspel Details, Confirmation Hearing Will Take Place Wednesday
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15 May 2018 10:37 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Rand Paul (Image source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)


Yet another Donald Trump nominee is facing increasing diversity leading to the vote. Many senators admit to being disturbed about what they have read about Gina Haspel, but the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee is still scheduled to vote on her nomination to head the CIA on Wednesday morning.

After Mike Pompeo resigned to become the Secretary of State, Haspel, the CIA deputy director, took over as acting director and become the nominee to replace him permanently. If confirmed, she will be the first female CIA director,

Once others in the White House became concerned that she was not a shoo-in because of her position on using torture to interrogate terrorist suspects, she wanted to withdraw her nomination. In 2002 she oversaw a secret CIA detention facility in Thailand where an al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded. Later, she was involved when the CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations of the suspect and a prior suspect. She was convinced to hang tough with the nomination.

But the scrutiny has only increased. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, himself a former prisoner of war in Vietnam and now diagnosed with brain cancer, spoke up against her and advised fellow senators to not vote for her. This caused a few ill-advised comments against him, including an aide who suggested his opinion doesn't matter as "he's dying anyway."

The Democratic staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee has prepared a classified document on Haspel's background. It's said to include details that weren't included in her public confirmation hearing, and people who are familiar with it have told NBC News that some senators and aides have found it disturbing.

The memo was drafted by a staffer who works with Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, who opposes Haspel. CIA officers vetted the documents and took issue with some portions they didn't find factual. Those passages were removed. Once NBC News began asking about it, senators were told the document was removed from the Senate's secure space and that they could see it by appointment. Later, they were given access to it again.

The support for Haspel has crossed partisan lines, with two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, supporting her nomination, and two Republicans, McCain and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, being opposed. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona wants more information and has suggested every senator should read the report of Haspel's role in destroying the tapes. Sen. Angus King, a Main independent, found Haspel's answers in her confirmation hearing to be "lawyerly" and "evasive."  

Many are watching to see how Paul eventually votes. The senator leans more towards Libertarianism and has often voted against Trump's wishes but later bows to pressure from him and changes his vote, as he did with Pompeo's confirmation. However, this time he is said to be a hard "No." 

When asked if Trump could convince him to change his mind, he again answered, "No." In an interview on Thursday, he added, "Someone who has been an active participant and enthusiast for torture is not someone who should represent America."

If Paul sticks to his guns and two undecided Republicans eventually vote to oppose Haspel's nomination as well, it could be at best a vary narrow confirmation. Vice President Mike Pence would break the vote in a tie.


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