Tester to vote ‘no’ on Trump’s CIA pick: ‘I’m not a fan of waterboarding’
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) says he will vote against the nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as President Trump’s new CIA chief, citing her involvement with the agency’s controversial interrogation program that has since been shuttered.
“I’m not a huge fan of waterboarding,” Tester, who is up for reelection this year in a state won by Trump, told CNN.
Haspel has faced scrutiny over her involvement in the CIA’s controversial enhanced interrogation program, which used techniques widely regarded as torture, that ended under the Obama administration.
Democrats have argued that Haspel should be disqualified because she briefly oversaw a CIA black site prison in Thailand where suspected terrorists were subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.
Tester, who Republicans are targeting in the midterm elections this fall, has opposed other Trump administration nominees for top positions.
Earlier this year, Tester helped derail Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after publicly detailing allegations of workplace misconduct against the White House physician.
Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, defended his decision to disclose the allegations, which included claims that Jackson inappropriately prescribed prescription drugs and was drunk on the job.
“It’s not political. I am focused on making sure that we have the best person possible to run the VA. It’s a very, very important agency,” Tester said at the time.
At a rally in Michigan last month, Trump claimed to have dirt on Tester that he wasn’t yet sharing, and called the Democratic senator a “disgrace.”
“Tester started throwing out things that he’s heard. Well, I know things about Tester that I could say, too,” Trump said. “And if I said them, he’d never be elected again.”
Haspel is slated to testify on Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where she is expected to face a grilling over the CIA’s controversial interrogation program.
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