Flake comes out against Haspel's nomination to lead CIA

Flake comes out against Haspel's nomination to lead CIA
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Flake to Trump: 'Fake news' didn't side with Putin, you did MORE (Ariz.) announced Wednesday he will oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE's pick to lead the CIA, citing her ties to the controversial "enhanced interrogation" program used during the George W. Bush administration.

"Congress needs to be able to provide fully informed oversight. My questions about Ms. Haspel's role in the destruction of videotapes relevant to discussions occurring in Congress regarding the program have not been adequately answered," Flake said in a statement.

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Flake, a vocal critic of Trump who is set to retire after this year, is the third Republican senator to come out against Haspel, joining GOP Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Nation editor: Reaction by most of the media to Trump-Putin press conference 'is like mob violence' Lewandowski: Trump-Putin meeting advances goal of world peace Rand Paul to travel to Russia after downplaying election meddling MORE (Ky.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPence, Pompeo urged Trump to clarify Russia remarks: report GOP lawmaker renews call for Trump to release tax returns after Putin summit House conservatives criticize media, not Trump, for Putin furor MORE (Ariz.) in opposing her nomination.

Paul announced in March that he would oppose Haspel's nomination, while McCain came out against the Trump nominee earlier this month, citing her comments about torture during her confirmation hearing.

However, Haspel is expected to be confirmed after several Democrats backed her this week.

Flake had sent a letter to the Justice Department last week asking for Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHomeland Security advisory council members resign over family separations: report Once a Trump critic, Ala. rep faces runoff with his support Ryan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' MORE to give the full Senate access to the so-called Durham Report before her nomination arrived on the floor for a full vote. 

The summary of the report, which details Haspel's involvement in the destruction of videotapes documenting the interrogation of an al Qaeda suspect, was shared with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

A spokeswoman for Flake didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday on whether the Justice Department responded to his letter.

Flake also appeared to point to Haspel's involvement in the broader Bush-era enhanced interrogation program — now widely viewed as torture — saying the country needs to "turn the page on the unfortunate chapter."

Still, despite Senate Republicans' narrow 51-seat majority, Flake's opposition won't be enough to sink Haspel's nomination. She needs the support of at least a few Democratic senators to overcome current GOP opposition and so far she has won over six Democrats: Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting Overnight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Morrisey accuses Manchin of 'lying' to Trump, attacks ‘liberal’ record The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Bipartisan group introduces retirement savings legislation in Senate Fed chief lays out risks of trade war MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Fed chief lays out risks of trade war Doug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee MORE (Ind.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback Senate Dems rip Trump after Putin news conference MORE (Fla.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDem lawmaker calls on House to subpoena American translator from Trump-Putin meeting Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Dem senator: Trump-Putin translator should tell Congress what was said MORE (N.H.).

The Senate could vote on Haspel's nomination as soon as Thursday after the Senate Intelligence Committee advanced her nomination earlier this week. If Republicans want to confirm her this week they'll need cooperation from Democrats. Otherwise, a vote will slide to early next week.

Haspel's background as a career CIA officer who played a role in the agency's use of interrogation and detention policies viewed as torture has been the key debate in her confirmation process.

Critics of Haspel argue that her work in the post-Sept. 11 CIA was disqualifying for someone who wanted to lead the agency. 

But her defenders, which include top Obama administration officials, argue that she is a veteran CIA official and highly qualified to run the agency. They argue she was following orders in the environment that followed the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.

At her confirmation hearing, Haspel repudiated the programs and said she would not allow their return.
 
--Updated at 7 p.m.