Sen. Donnelly backs Gina Haspel, making Central Intelligence Agency nominee's confirmation more likely

Sen. Donnelly backs Gina Haspel, making Central Intelligence Agency nominee's confirmation more likely

The announcement puts Donnelly at odds with Democrats, who oppose Haspel, and may improve her chances of being confirmed by the Senate.

Haspel, now the acting director of the CIA, told members of the Senate intelligence committee during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday that, if confirmed, she would not restart the interrogation program.

The other Democrat to support Haspel is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another senator up for re-election in a red state. Surprisingly, Republican Senator John McCain too said that she was not the right fit to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Donnelly shared a few sentences about why he has chosen to support Haspel for CIA Director on Saturday.

Both Donnelly and Manchin - who serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that must approve Haspel's nomination before Donnelly and the rest of the chamber confirms her - face hard midterm fights this year in states that voted for Trump in 2016.

Brutal interrogation practices are now banned under US law, but debate on the issue has re-surfaced during Haspel's confirmation process because she was once involved in the CIA's interrogation program. He believes she has learned from her past in a way that will help her lead the agency into the future.

That assessment prompted a White House aide to joke that McCain, who was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer in 2017, is "dying anyway" and his opposition to Haspel does not matter.

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While the GOP's narrow hold on the Senate, 51-49, has been further slimmed with McCain's absence, Haspel appeared to be gaining support.

She has broad, but not unanimous support, from Republicans in the Senate.

The Indiana senator issued a statement after meeting with Haspel, saying they had "a tough, frank, and extensive discussion" about her role in the top position at the CIA, as well as her views on controversial enhanced interrogations practices used by the spy agency against terrorist suspects under the Bush administration, according to The Washington Post.

His opponent will be the state attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, who this week came through a Republican primary featuring the ex-coal boss and convicted felon Don Blankenship, whom Trump rejected as unelectable.

"For those reasons, and after careful consideration, I will support Ms. Haspel's nomination to lead the agency to which she has dedicated her career", he added.

Others include Sens. Angus King from Maine, Doug Jones from Alabama, Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota, Bill Nelson from Florida and Claire McCaskill from Missouri.

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