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 DonnellyTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments MORE (D-Ind.) has announced he will support President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis 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 BrennanWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Trump critic Brennan praises his Iran decision: I 'applaud' him 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) ManchinDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand Kentucky Democrat says primary challenge to McGrath 'might be helpful' 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 McCainMeghan McCain promotes July 17 as #GBMday to raise awareness of father's cancer The peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Lindsey Graham: 'Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism' MORE (Ariz.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulFirst responder calls senators blocking 9/11 victim funding 'a--holes' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Jon Stewart rips into Rand Paul after he blocks 9/11 victim compensation fund: 'An abomination' 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.