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 FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.) announced Wednesday he will oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments 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 PaulTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Democratic congressman calls for study of effects of sex-trafficking law McConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' MORE (Ky.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLessons of the Kamala Harris campaign Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Top Armed Services Democrat scolds military leaders on Trump's intervention in war crimes cases 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 SessionsThe shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Rosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe 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 WarnerHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing Hillicon Valley: Dueling bills set stage for privacy debate | Google co-founders step down from parent company | Advocates rally for self-driving car bill | Elon Musk defamation trial begins | Lawsuit accuses TikTok of sharing data with China MORE (Va.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinNo one wins with pro-abortion litmus test Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary Political purity tests are for losers MORE (W.Va.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyGinsburg health scare raises prospect of election year Supreme Court battle Watchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world MORE (Ind.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (Fla.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Biden reveals four women he could pick as his running mate 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.