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CIA director meets with McConnell amid speculation over possible firing

CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint A strong, committed intelligence community is part of America's good fortune Women set to take key roles in Biden administration MORE met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Biden and reproductive health rights Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday amid speculation that she could be ousted from her post by President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE following his loss in the presidential race.

The meeting sent a signal of McConnell’s support for the CIA chief amid news reports saying she and FBI Director Christopher Wray could be on the chopping block ahead of a possible shakeup in the waning days of the Trump administration.

The president has already fired former Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperActing Defense secretary makes surprise trip to Somalia Overnight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition MORE, with whom he’d clashed over the government’s response to protests regarding racial injustice over the summer. 

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McConnell regularly receives intelligence briefings due to his membership to the so-called Gang of Eight, which includes congressional leaders and the top members of the Senate and House Intelligence committees, but his meeting with Haspel on Tuesday was in his own capacity.

Haspel, who like McConnell hails from Kentucky, is believed to have a good relationship with the Senate majority leader. 

She also met with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. 

"Not that I'm aware of, other than you know the president would want somebody else. ... If I'm asked my opinion, I think she's done a great job," Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls The Memo: GOP mulls its future after Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday MORE (R-Fla.) said when asked if he thought there was a reason to fire her.

Democrats have also expressed concerns that Haspel or Wray could be dismissed.

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"Yes, I worry about the people who have shown some degree of integrity being removed. I definitely worry about that because that's what Trump does and he's getting more and more desperate as he realizes the election results," Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerProtect America's houses of worship in year-end appropriations package Club for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

Though the role of CIA director has historically been separated from the politics of the White House and Capitol Hill, Haspel has been in Trump’s crosshairs in part over what he sees as her and Wray’s reluctance to investigate his unsubstantiated claims of wrongdoing by President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE and his son, Hunter Biden, over the younger Biden’s business dealings.

The CIA chief has also backed up a number of conclusions from her agency that have rebutted narratives stemming from the White House, including intelligence pointing to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Moscow’s paying of bounties to the Taliban to kill coalition troops in Afghanistan. The president has expressed skepticism over reports on both the Khashoggi killing in Istanbul and the Russian bounties.

– Jordain Carney contributed to this report, which was updated at 7:40 p.m.