Donnelly announces support for Trump's CIA pick Gina Haspel

Donnelly announces support for Trump's CIA pick Gina Haspel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDems to challenge Kavanaugh for White House records The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Schumer to meet with Kavanaugh on Tuesday MORE (D-Ind.) has announced he will support President TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE’s pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, increasing her chances of being confirmed.

Donnelly said in a statement Saturday he believes that Haspel “has learned from the past, and that the CIA under her leadership can help our country confront serious international threats and challenges.”

The Indiana Democrat also pointed to Haspel's backing from former CIA directors John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanTrump plays 'quick round of golf' with Rand Paul in New Jersey Comey: 'Truth exists and truth matters' Giuliani labels Brennan ‘one of the biggest frauds in the history of this country’ MORE, Michael Hayden and Leon Panetta in explaining his support for her.

Donnelly is the second Democrat to endorse Haspel’s nomination, joining Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDems to challenge Kavanaugh for White House records Overnight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit with new ad MORE (W.Va.), who backed her earlier this week. Both Democrats are running for reelection this year in states carried by Trump in 2016.

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With GOP Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate gets to work in August — but many don’t show up Rand Paul’s Russia visit displays advancement of peace through diplomacy MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Trump plays 'quick round of golf' with Rand Paul in New Jersey Hillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones MORE (Ky.) opposing Haspel's nomination, the Trump pick needs at least a few Democratic pickups to be confirmed, as a number of Republicans have not announced how they will vote.

Haspel is under fire from some senators for her overseeing "enhanced interrogation techniques" employed by the CIA against suspected terrorists in the past, and in particular for not saying during her Senate testimony whether torture is immoral.

McCain, who was tortured during the Vietnam War and has long been an opponent of the harsh interrogation techniques used during the George W. Bush administration, came out against Haspel's nomination on Wednesday night.

But while showing deference to the Arizona Republican, who is at home battling brain cancer, few GOP senators gave signs Thursday that McCain's opposition to the CIA pick would sink her nomination.

Manchin said Haspel's "intellect, steady temperament, vast knowledge of threats we face, and dedication to our country are undeniable" in a statement announcing his support for her nomination earlier this week.

"I have found Gina Haspel to be a person of great character. Over her 33 year career as a CIA operations officer, she has worked in some of the most dangerous corners of our world, and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices she has made for our country," he said.