Flake comes out against Haspel's nomination to lead CIA

Flake comes out against Haspel's nomination to lead CIA
© Greg Nash

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump keeps tight grip on GOP McSally to back Trump on emergency declaration Flake: Biden 'strikes fear in a lot of Republicans' MORE (Ariz.) announced Wednesday he will oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel, President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE's pick to lead the CIA, citing her ties to the controversial "enhanced interrogation" program used during the George W. Bush administration.

"Congress needs to be able to provide fully informed oversight. My questions about Ms. Haspel's role in the destruction of videotapes relevant to discussions occurring in Congress regarding the program have not been adequately answered," Flake said in a statement.

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Flake, a vocal critic of Trump who is set to retire after this year, is the third Republican senator to come out against Haspel, joining GOP Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program Trump keeps tight grip on GOP GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (Ky.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump steps up attacks on McCain Trump: 'I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be' Santorum: Trump should 'send emails to a therapist' instead of tweeting MORE (Ariz.) in opposing her nomination.

Paul announced in March that he would oppose Haspel's nomination, while McCain came out against the Trump nominee earlier this month, citing her comments about torture during her confirmation hearing.

However, Haspel is expected to be confirmed after several Democrats backed her this week.

Flake had sent a letter to the Justice Department last week asking for Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump O'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump MORE to give the full Senate access to the so-called Durham Report before her nomination arrived on the floor for a full vote. 

The summary of the report, which details Haspel's involvement in the destruction of videotapes documenting the interrogation of an al Qaeda suspect, was shared with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

A spokeswoman for Flake didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday on whether the Justice Department responded to his letter.

Flake also appeared to point to Haspel's involvement in the broader Bush-era enhanced interrogation program — now widely viewed as torture — saying the country needs to "turn the page on the unfortunate chapter."

Still, despite Senate Republicans' narrow 51-seat majority, Flake's opposition won't be enough to sink Haspel's nomination. She needs the support of at least a few Democratic senators to overcome current GOP opposition and so far she has won over six Democrats: Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems request probe into spa owner suspected of trying to sell access to Trump Live video of New Zealand shooting puts tech on defensive The Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies first veto after latest clash with Senate GOP MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinManchin says he won't support LGBTQ protection bill as written Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Murkowski, Manchin call for 'responsible solutions' to climate change MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampAnnual scorecard ranks GOP environmental efforts far below Dems in 2018 Overnight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonEx-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight 2020 party politics in Puerto Rico MORE (Fla.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Dems petition Saudi king to release dissidents, US citizen Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Overnight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election MORE (N.H.).

The Senate could vote on Haspel's nomination as soon as Thursday after the Senate Intelligence Committee advanced her nomination earlier this week. If Republicans want to confirm her this week they'll need cooperation from Democrats. Otherwise, a vote will slide to early next week.

Haspel's background as a career CIA officer who played a role in the agency's use of interrogation and detention policies viewed as torture has been the key debate in her confirmation process.

Critics of Haspel argue that her work in the post-Sept. 11 CIA was disqualifying for someone who wanted to lead the agency. 

But her defenders, which include top Obama administration officials, argue that she is a veteran CIA official and highly qualified to run the agency. They argue she was following orders in the environment that followed the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.

At her confirmation hearing, Haspel repudiated the programs and said she would not allow their return.
 
--Updated at 7 p.m.