Trump CIA Pick Sought to Withdraw Over Interrogation Concerns

AP News in Brief at 12:04 am EDT

- With few details about Gina Haspel's undercover career, debate over President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the CIA descended into verbal spatting between those who praise her experience and others who want her disqualified because of her role in the spy agency's harsh interrogation of terror subjects after 9/11.

According to the report, "Haspel told the White House she was interested in stepping aside if it avoided the spectacle of a brutal confirmation hearing" scheduled for Wednesday.

"The takeaway for every United States Senator should be that they need a lot more information about Haspel than they're now getting", Faiz Shakir, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), pointed out; last week, he demanded Central Intelligence Agency records on Haspel, under the Freedom of Information Act.

During the meeting, Haspel offered to withdraw if that would help the situation, two of the sources said. For one, it appears that Haspel was an "enthusiastic supporter" of the controversial waterboarding program, which casts her in a negative light.

The suggestion alarmed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and legislative affairs director Marc Short, who reportedly rushed to the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Friday to meet with Haspel after she left the White House in order to talk her out of pulling out.

Ms. Haspel was ultimately convinced not to withdraw her name and is expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.

According to the Post, Short told Haspel she could still be confirmed despite the questions over her role in the interrogation program.

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The destruction of the tapes is a key issue for Senate critics of Haspel, who complain that public agency disclosures regarding its interrogation programs have been inadequate.

On Friday she was at the White House to explain her position on torture.

Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, additionally expressed reservations concerning Mr. Pompeo, nevertheless he eventually relented, and the Senate confirmed him with a vote of 57 to 42.

The release of the disciplinary review may persuade some lawmakers who had been undecided to support Haspel, said congressional officials tracking the nomination process. She also feared unfair attacks on her own reputation, saying that she didn't want to be "the next Ronny Jackson", one official said.

By Saturday, Haspel had agreed to continue with her nomination, officials told the Post.

Sanders, meanwhile, tweeted an endorsement of Haspel on Friday.

She has received robust backing from former intelligence, diplomatic, military and national security officials, who praise her extensive intelligence career.

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