Cornyn defends Haspel: Democrats already 'smeared' one nominee
© Greg Nash

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE (R-Texas) on Monday urged the Senate to confirm acting CIA Director Gina Haspel to lead the agency after Democrats "unfairly smeared" another of President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE's nominees. 

“We've seen one Trump nominee get unfairly smeared by half-truths, innuendo and hearsay. We can't let that happen again. Ms. Haspel didn't ask for this fight," Cornyn said from the Senate floor. 

Cornyn was referring to Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, Trump's failed pick to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jackson withdrew his nomination amid allegations, which he denied, that he created a hostile work environment, mishandled prescription drugs and drank on the job. 

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Though Republican senators also questioned if Jackson was qualified, much of the GOP ire has been directed at Democratic Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSchumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Democrats' filibuster gambit unravels MORE (Mont.), the ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee who released a list of the allegations. 
 
"I still have a hard time accepting the treatment that Dr. Jackson received before he was even allowed to defend himself," Cornyn added, saying "reckless" attacks could discourage individuals from working for the government. 
 
Cornyn's comment comes as Haspel is scheduled to publicly testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday as part of her nomination. She's also holding a blitz of one-on-one meetings with senators this week ahead of the committee hearing. 
 
She faces a rocky road to confirmation amid scrutiny about her role overseeing a CIA "black site" and the destruction of videotapes that documented the waterboarding of an al Qaeda suspect. 
 
With Republicans holding a slim 51-seat majority, and GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 I'm furious about Democrats taking the blame — it's time to fight back Rand Paul cancels DirecTV subscription after it drops OAN MORE (Ky.) opposed to her nomination, she'll need to win over at least one Democratic senator to be confirmed. 
 
The Washington Post reported that Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination late last week and that the White House wasn't assured until Saturday that she would go through with it. 
 
Cornyn added on Monday that he was glad Haspel stuck with her nomination and didn't fold to "intimidation tactics"