Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel

Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFormer coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics 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 PaulJohnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges McConnell discounts quick dismissal of Trump impeachment articles: 'We'll have to have a trial' 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 FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (Maine), remain undecided.

Manchin is running for reelection in November in a state won handily by President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation 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 KingOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing MORE (I-Maine), who supported Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoJudge rules American-born woman who joined ISIS not a US citizen Human rights: Help or hindrance to toppling dictators? The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing 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.