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Independent senator comes out against Haspel

Independent senator comes out against Haspel
© Greg Nash

Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingGOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel People have forgotten 'facade' of independent politicians, says GOP strategist 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 PompeoOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases U.S. think tank identifies 13 undeclared missile bases in North Korea Pompeo reaffirms to Saudi crown prince US will hold Khashoggi’s killers ‘accountable’ 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 PaulSchumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress GOP pollster says Republicans could break with Trump on Saudi Arabia Overnight Defense: Trump says 15,000 troops could deploy to border | Mattis insists deployment is not 'stunt' | Pompeo calls for Yemen peace talks in November MORE (Ky.) opposed to Haspel's nomination and Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSinema invokes McCain in Senate acceptance speech Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Medicaid expansion gets extra boost from governors' races | Utah's expansion to begin April 1 | GOP lawmaker blames McCain for Dems winning House Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases 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) ManchinSchumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems MORE (W.Va.), who is running for reelection in a state handily won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE in 2016, on Wednesday became the first Democrat to say he will vote for Haspel.