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Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel

Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinElection Countdown: Takeaways from heated Florida governor's debate | DNC chief pushes back on 'blue wave' talk | Manchin faces progressive backlash | Trump heads to Houston rally | Obama in Las Vegas | Signs of huge midterm turnout The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Early ballots pouring in with 15 days to the midterms Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia 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 PaulPaul to Saudi government: 'It takes a lot of damn gall' to lecture US Congress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he is cutting foreign aid over caravan | Lawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince | DNC chair downplays 'blue wave' talk 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 FlakeCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia Flake says he and his family got death threats 'from the right' Trump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona MORE (Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (Maine), remain undecided.

Manchin is running for reelection in November in a state won handily by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report 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 KingCollusion judgment looms for key Senate panel People have forgotten 'facade' of independent politicians, says GOP strategist Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight MORE (I-Maine), who supported Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWarren wants probe into whether former U.S. soldiers worked as assassins for UAE Slain Saudi columnist upends 'Davos in the Desert' Koreas, UN Command pulling weapons, guard posts inside DMZ 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.