Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel

Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) Manchin The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Trump, lawmakers consider app that would conduct background checks: report Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks MORE (D-W.Va.) said on Wednesday that he will vote for CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency.

Manchin is the first Democrat to come out in support of Haspel, bolstering her chances of being confirmed despite engrained opposition from progressive senators and allied outside groups.

"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," Manchin said in a statement.

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Manchin also pointed to Haspel's "intellect, steady temperament, vast knowledge of threats we face, and dedication to our country are undeniable" saying they "make her supremely qualified" to be the next CIA director.

Manchin's decision comes just hours after Haspel testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member.

With GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLiz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate Paul calls into Wyoming TV station to talk Cheney feud MORE (R-Ky.) opposed to Haspel, she needed to win over at least one Democratic senator to secure 50 votes, assuming every other GOP senator votes "yes" to confirm her.

Several key GOP senators, including Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Congress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance Senators say Trump open to expanding background checks MORE (Maine), remain undecided.

Manchin is running for reelection in November in a state won handily by President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE in 2016 and would likely have faced a mountain of pressure to support Haspel.

His announcement comes one day after he won his primary election, defeating challenger Paula Jean Swearengin.

Republicans are still optimistic about the chances their candidate, the state's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, can unseat Manchin in November. 

Manchin was also one of six Democrats, plus Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year MORE (I-Maine), who supported Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchiff: Diplomacy with Iran 'only way out of this situation' Bolton exit provokes questions about Trump shift on Iran Buttigieg: Not too late for US to be 'constructive force' in Middle East MORE to be secretary of State.

Several other potential Democratic "yes" votes said this week that they remain on the fence.

Updated at 3:13 p.m.