Manchin becomes first Democrat to back Haspel
Sen. Joe Manchin (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.
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 Paul (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 Flake (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine), remain undecided.
Manchin is running for reelection in November in a state won handily by President Trump 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 King (I-Maine), who supported Mike Pompeo 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.