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CIA director meets with McConnell amid speculation over possible firing

CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelCIA chief threatened to resign over push to install Trump loyalist as deputy: report Biden announces veteran diplomat William Burns as nominee for CIA director Meet Biden's pick to lead the US intelligence community MORE met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Senate GOP opens door to earmarks McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday amid speculation that she could be ousted from her post by President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' 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 EsperThe paradox of US-India relations Overnight Defense: Trump-era land mine policy unchanged amid review | Biden spending outline coming Friday | First lady sets priorities for relaunched military families initiative Biden to keep Trump-era land mine policy in place during review 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 RubioNikki Haley says if Trump runs for president in 2024 then she won't Trump's early endorsements reveal GOP rift The Memo: Biden's five biggest foreign policy challenges 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 SchumerTop academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act NY Times beclowns itself by normalizing court-packing 'to balance the conservative majority' The first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally 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 BidenTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Biden, first lady send 'warmest greetings' to Muslims for Ramadan The business case for child care reform 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.