Independent senator comes out against Haspel

Independent senator comes out against Haspel
© Greg Nash

Independent 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 (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 PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Kim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail Trump directed officials to work to free rapper A$AP Rocky after arrest in Sweden: reports 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 PaulTrump faces new hit on deficit Overnight Defense: US shoots down Iranian drone | Pentagon sending 500 more troops to Saudi Arabia | Trump mulls Turkey sanctions | Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin MORE (Ky.) opposed to Haspel's nomination and Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain shares video of father shutting down supporter who called Obama an 'Arab' after Trump rally Graham: Every Republican president or nominee 'will be accused of being a racist' No presidential candidate can unite the country 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) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (W.Va.), who is running for reelection in a state handily won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE in 2016, on Wednesday became the first Democrat to say he will vote for Haspel.