Independent senator comes out against Haspel

Independent senator comes out against Haspel
© Greg Nash

Independent Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingSen. Angus King begins treatment for prostate cancer GOP senators challenge Trump on shutdown strategy Will Trump declare an emergency tonight? Only he knows for sure 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 PompeoPompeo: US 'absolutely not' getting out of the Middle East Pompeo taking meeting about running for Kansas Senate seat: report Ex-US envoy in ISIS fight: 'There's no plan for what's coming' after US troop withdrawal in Syria 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 PaulCivil rights group marks MLK Day with call for 'Trump card' national ID Pressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal House Republicans call for moving State of the Union to Senate chamber MORE (Ky.) opposed to Haspel's nomination and Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal 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) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks MORE (W.Va.), who is running for reelection in a state handily won by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE in 2016, on Wednesday became the first Democrat to say he will vote for Haspel.