Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel

Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 PaulUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Overnight Defense: Iran seizes British tanker in latest escalation | US, UK to discuss situation | Trump says 'no doubt' US downed Iranian drone after Tehran's denials | Pentagon's No. 2 policy official to leave | Lawmakers worry about Defense vacancies 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 urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE (Maine), remain undecided.

Manchin is running for reelection in November in a state won handily by President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller 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 KingPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Senate panel advances Pentagon chief, Joint Chiefs chairman nominees Overnight Defense: Highlights from Defense pick's confirmation hearing | Esper spars with Warren over ethics | Sidesteps questions on Mattis vs. Trump | Trump says he won't sell F-35s to Turkey MORE (I-Maine), who supported Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo: There's 'no indication' Iran will change direction Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Trump confirms he authorized Rand Paul to negotiate with Iran 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.