Independent senator comes out against Haspel

Independent senator comes out against Haspel
© Greg Nash

Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingTrump, Europe increasingly at odds on Iran The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems raise stakes with talk of 'constitutional crisis' Hillicon Valley: Regulators press Congress on privacy bill | Americans mimic Russian disinformation tactics ahead of 2020 | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders back Uber strike | GOP senator targets 'manipulative' video games MORE (Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, said on Wednesday that he will oppose CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel's nomination to lead the spy agency. 

"The difficulty of these decisions is that I cannot vote for half a nominee. I cannot support Acting Director Haspel’s decorated career with CIA without also condoning her involvement in the destruction of videotapes showing detainee interrogations," King said in a statement explaining his decision to oppose her nomination. 

King's statement comes hours after Haspel testified before the Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member. 

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Democrats repeatedly pressed her during the hearing on her nomination to explain her role in the 2005 decision to destroy the tapes, which public reporting has widely indicated show the interrogations of two men but which Haspel said depict only one man's interrogation. 

King noted on Wednesday that he's previously raised concerns about the tapes, including writing in 2014 that "those involved in the decision to destroy those records against the clear direction of senior U.S. officials should no longer be leading the Agency." 

King's opposition to Haspel's nomination narrows the pool of potential Democratic "yes" votes for Haspel, who will need a simple majority to be confirmed. 

Fifteen Democrats, including King, supported former Rep. Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Dems ask former CIA chief John Brennan for Iran briefing: report MORE (R-Kan.) to be CIA director. King and six Democrats voted for Pompeo late last month to lead the State Department. 

With GOP Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran US ambassador to Germany ruffles State Department with budget stand Overnight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon MORE (Ky.) opposed to Haspel's nomination and Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Romney: Trump 'has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character' MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE (Ariz.) absent for cancer treatment, she will need to win over at least one Democratic senator to be confirmed.

Several other GOP senators remain on the fence. 

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinLabor head warns of 'frightening uptick' in black lung disease among miners Labor leader: Trump has stopped erosion of coal jobs Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat MORE (W.Va.), who is running for reelection in a state handily won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons' Rocket attack hits Baghdad's Green Zone amid escalating tensions: reports Buttigieg on Trump tweets: 'I don't care' MORE in 2016, on Wednesday became the first Democrat to say he will vote for Haspel.