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Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) handed CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel a potential roadblock on her path toward confirmation, urging his colleagues in the Senate to reject her nomination following her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
“I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense. However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing,” McCain, who is currently recovering from surgery related to brain cancer, said in a statement.
“Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination,” the Arizona senator added.
While McCain was not expected to be present for Haspel's vote as he recovers in Arizona, President Donald Trump's CIA director nominee now can't afford to lose any more Republican support with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also standing in opposition.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) became the first Democrat to back the Haspel's nomination following Wednesday's Senate confirmation hearing.
“I have found Gina Haspel to be a person of great character,” Manchin said in a statement. “She has earned the trust of her colleagues in the intelligence community and her intellect, steady temperament, vast knowledge of threats we face, and dedication to our country are undeniable. These attributes make her supremely qualified to serve as our next CIA Director.”
On Wednesday, Haspel was grilled during her confirmation hearing, particularly on the over 30-year intelligence officer's involvement in utilizing enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) asked Haspel bluntly what she would do if President Trump asked her to use waterboarding on high-value terrorism suspect.
“I do not believe the president would ask me to do that," the career intelligence officer replied.
Haspel also said she would not carry out an order from the president that she deemed to be “morally objectionable.”