Donnelly announces support for Trump’s CIA pick Gina Haspel
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) has announced he will support President Trump’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 Brennan, Michael Hayden and Leon Panetta in explaining his support for her.
— Senator Joe Donnelly (@SenDonnelly) May 12, 2018
Donnelly is the second Democrat to endorse Haspel’s nomination, joining Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who backed her earlier this week. Both Democrats are running for reelection this year in states carried by Trump in 2016.
With GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rand Paul (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.