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

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks 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 John TrumpFormer Joint Chiefs chairman: 'The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran' Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time 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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"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. 
 
 
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"