McCain urges Senate to reject Haspel’s nomination

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (R-Ariz.) came out against Gina Haspel, President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE’s nominee to be CIA director, on Wednesday after her confirmation hearing in the Senate. 

In a break with President Trump, McCain urged his Senate colleagues to vote against Haspel, charging that "her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying."

McCain said Haspel in speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee failed to address his concerns about her role in an enhanced interrogation program during the George W. Bush administration. The methods used in that program are now widely regarded as torture.

Haspel cannot afford to lose any additional Republican support. McCain is recovering from surgery related to his brain cancer in Arizona and was not expected to be present when the Senate votes on Haspel's nomination. With McCain out and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPaul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Graham on impeachment trial: 'End this crap as quickly as possible' Ocasio-Cortez accuses Rand Paul of taking climate change comments out of context, compares GOP agenda to 'Spaceballs' plot MORE (R-Ky.) opposed, Haspel still needs support from at least one Democratic senator as well as every other Republican to be confirmed. 

"Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked. I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty,” McCain said in a statement Wednesday.

“But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”

ADVERTISEMENT

McCain said that he believes Haspel “is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense.”

“However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,” he continued. “I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination."

McCain was tortured as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. He had previously expressed skepticism about Haspel's nomination.

Haspel's ties to the interrogation program led to a contentious confirmation hearing on Wednesday in which Senate Democrats drilled down on her views on the subject. She did not answer when Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Team Trump criticizes Sanders for vote against USMCA MORE (D-Calif.) repeatedly asked if Haspel believes past interrogation techniques were "immoral."

However, she pledged that she would not bring back the program.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday that he will support Haspel's nomination. Several other GOP senators remain on the fence.

McCain's opposition to Haspel's nomination marked the latest instance in which the Arizona senator broke with Trump.

The president drew harsh criticism during the 2016 campaign when he disputed that McCain is a war hero, saying he prefers war heroes "who weren't captured."

Since Trump's election, McCain has frequently spoken out against Trump's rhetoric and the "spurious nationalism" sweeping the country, and wrote critically of Trump in his upcoming book.

In addition, McCain delivered the decisive vote to kill an ObamaCare repeal effort in the Senate last summer.

--Updated at 9:05 p.m.