Independent senator comes out against Haspel

Independent senator comes out against Haspel
© Greg Nash

Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget Shanahan grilled on Pentagon's border wall funding Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law 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 PompeoState Department blocks reporters from Pompeo briefing with faith-based media: report The Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms Pompeo jokes he'll be secretary of State until Trump 'tweets me out of office' 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 PaulTrio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program Trump keeps tight grip on GOP GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (Ky.) opposed to Haspel's nomination and Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain Trump: 'I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be' Santorum: Trump should 'send emails to a therapist' instead of tweeting 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) ManchinManchin says he won't support LGBTQ protection bill as written Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Murkowski, Manchin call for 'responsible solutions' to climate change MORE (W.Va.), who is running for reelection in a state handily won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE in 2016, on Wednesday became the first Democrat to say he will vote for Haspel.