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Donnelly announces support for Trump's CIA pick Gina Haspel

Donnelly announces support for Trump's CIA pick Gina Haspel
© Greg Nash

Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Citi — Big haul for O'Rourke | Senators press Trump to get tougher on Saudis | Kavanaugh tensions linger The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence Senate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees MORE (D-Ind.) has announced he will support President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE’s pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, increasing her chances of being confirmed.

Donnelly said in a statement Saturday he believes that Haspel “has learned from the past, and that the CIA under her leadership can help our country confront serious international threats and challenges.”

The Indiana Democrat also pointed to Haspel's backing from former CIA directors John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanBrennan: Saudi denials of involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance 'ring hollow' Clinton's security clearance withdrawn at her request Mr. President, tear down the wall hiding those FISA abuses MORE, Michael Hayden and Leon Panetta in explaining his support for her.

Donnelly is the second Democrat to endorse Haspel’s nomination, joining Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinGillibrand backs Manchin, Bredesen despite their support of Kavanaugh Senate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees Overnight Energy: Climate skeptic confirmed as DOJ environmental lawyer | EPA to phase out air pollution panel | Ad campaign targets mercury rule proposal MORE (W.Va.), who backed her earlier this week. Both Democrats are running for reelection this year in states carried by Trump in 2016.

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With GOP Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMurkowski not worried about a Palin challenge Kavanaugh fight a GOP wake up call, but more is needed MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace: I told Jeb Bush 'he should have punched' Trump 'in the face' MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulNoisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Five things to watch for in deteriorating US-Saudi relations MORE (Ky.) opposing Haspel's nomination, the Trump pick needs at least a few Democratic pickups to be confirmed, as a number of Republicans have not announced how they will vote.

Haspel is under fire from some senators for her overseeing "enhanced interrogation techniques" employed by the CIA against suspected terrorists in the past, and in particular for not saying during her Senate testimony whether torture is immoral.

McCain, who was tortured during the Vietnam War and has long been an opponent of the harsh interrogation techniques used during the George W. Bush administration, came out against Haspel's nomination on Wednesday night.

But while showing deference to the Arizona Republican, who is at home battling brain cancer, few GOP senators gave signs Thursday that McCain's opposition to the CIA pick would sink her nomination.

Manchin said Haspel's "intellect, steady temperament, vast knowledge of threats we face, and dedication to our country are undeniable" in a statement announcing his support for her nomination earlier this week.

"I have found Gina Haspel to be a person of great character. Over her 33 year career as a CIA operations officer, she has worked in some of the most dangerous corners of our world, and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices she has made for our country," he said.