Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel

Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats 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 PaulOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter Iran Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' 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 FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (Maine), remain undecided.

Manchin is running for reelection in November in a state won handily by President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 KingSenate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Trump, Europe increasingly at odds on Iran The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems raise stakes with talk of 'constitutional crisis' MORE (I-Maine), who supported Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: 1,500 troops heading to Mideast to counter Iran | Trump cites Iran tensions to push through Saudi arms sale | Senate confirms Army, Navy chiefs before weeklong recess Senators say Trump using loophole to push through Saudi arms sale Trump to send 1,500 troops to Middle East to counter 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.