Gina Haspel sought to withdraw nomination to be CIA director

Gina Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination as President Donald Trump's pick to head the CIA on Friday after some ...

Posted: May 7, 2018 11:10 AM
Updated: May 7, 2018 11:10 AM

Gina Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination as President Donald Trump's pick to head the CIA on Friday after some White House officials raised concerns with her about her ability to get confirmed, several sources familiar with the nomination have told CNN.

During the meeting, Haspel offered to withdraw if that would help the situation, two of the sources said.

Later that day White House legislative affairs director Marc Short and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders went to CIA headquarters in Virginia to talk to Haspel, two of the sources said. Eventually the tension seemed to ease, and as of now her nomination stands, the sources said.

Haspel faces a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday. Her nomination would be in jeopardy only if she loses the support of Republicans, who hold a slim 51-49 seat majority in the Senate.

Two sources said Haspel participated in a practice session Friday -- called a "murder board" -- to prepare for the hearing, a sign the nomination was moving forward.

While the White House has been concerned about her past involvement with the CIA's controversial interrogation program, administration officials said they ultimately believe she will get confirmed.

The Washington Post first reported Haspel's offer to withdraw. A 33-year CIA veteran, Haspel was summoned to the White House to answer questions about her role in the interrogation program, the Post reported.

Haspel feared becoming "the next Ronny Jackson," the White House physician who withdrew his nomination as Veterans Affairs secretary amid questions about alleged misconduct on the job, one official told the Post. Jackson no longer works as Trump's personal physician but remains in the White House Medical Unit.

The newspaper said Trump learned of the situation on Friday and called officials while in Dallas for the National Rifle Association convention. After initially signaling he would support whatever decision was taken, Trump decided to push for Haspel to remain the nominee, according to the newspaper.

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

Both Short and Sanders declined to comment to the Post about Haspel's offer to withdraw.

"There is no one more qualified to be the first woman to lead the CIA than 30+ year CIA veteran Gina Haspel," Sanders wrote on Twitter Saturday. "Any Democrat who claims to support women's empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite."

Raj Shah, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said in a statement Sunday, "Acting Director (Gina) Haspel is a highly qualified nominee who has dedicated over three decades of service to her country. Her nomination will not be derailed by partisan critics who side with the ACLU over the CIA on how to keep the American people safe."

Two potential sticking points in Haspel's nomination are her past oversight of a CIA "black site" in Thailand in 2002 and her involvement in the destruction of CIA videotapes showing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects in 2005, although the CIA released an internal review last month absolving Haspel of responsibility.

The official who conducted the review, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, told CNN that Haspel had merely drafted a cable under instruction from her boss, former clandestine chief Jose Rodriguez, "that he sent, under his name and authority, ordering that the tapes be destroyed."

A CIA spokesperson told CNN on Sunday, "There has been a fascinating phenomenon over the last few weeks. Those who know the true Gina Haspel -- who worked with her, who served with her, who helped her confront terrorism, Russia and countless other threats to our nation -- they almost uniformly support her."

"When the American people finally have a chance to see the true Gina Haspel on Wednesday, they will understand why she is so admired and why she is and will be a great leader for this Agency," the spokesperson said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 245847

Reported Deaths: 5356
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16717168
Hinds15748310
Harrison12806188
Rankin10334204
Jackson9996172
Lee8666135
Madison7994158
Jones6112108
Forrest5826117
Lauderdale5672174
Lowndes5186106
Lafayette482792
Lamar471162
Washington4700122
Bolivar3915105
Oktibbeha384279
Panola357274
Pontotoc356552
Monroe3463101
Union334755
Warren334692
Marshall333264
Neshoba3310149
Pearl River313891
Leflore2969104
Lincoln290185
Sunflower275868
Tate264759
Alcorn257850
Itawamba257058
Pike254876
Hancock246957
Prentiss240047
Scott238743
Copiah235649
Yazoo235054
Tippah233845
Simpson230166
Leake226764
Coahoma219054
Grenada213970
Covington207171
Marion203371
Adams200065
Winston196260
George195937
Wayne193029
Attala190958
Newton185142
Chickasaw179943
Tishomingo179059
Holmes167467
Jasper163533
Clay155632
Stone138818
Tallahatchie137033
Clarke135160
Calhoun132021
Smith117322
Yalobusha112534
Walthall110536
Noxubee108922
Greene108229
Montgomery107134
Carroll102320
Lawrence99817
Perry98631
Amite95725
Webster90024
Claiborne84125
Tunica84021
Jefferson Davis82925
Humphreys80324
Benton79722
Kemper75620
Quitman6678
Franklin64613
Choctaw59412
Wilkinson57424
Jefferson52019
Sharkey42317
Issaquena1576
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 414583

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson60842887
Mobile29590538
Madison26466183
Tuscaloosa20537267
Montgomery18562304
Shelby18181112
Baldwin15841177
Lee1212097
Morgan12002112
Etowah11488142
Calhoun10863197
Marshall10048106
Houston8405123
Cullman792294
Limestone785073
Elmore7670101
DeKalb757282
St. Clair7417120
Lauderdale740282
Talladega6036108
Walker5834176
Jackson571937
Colbert522270
Blount521980
Autauga507555
Coffee431456
Dale388278
Franklin362145
Chilton332965
Covington325567
Russell318910
Escambia309842
Dallas297988
Chambers275769
Clarke272933
Tallapoosa2591107
Pike245829
Lawrence239345
Marion238649
Winston222535
Bibb211347
Geneva196331
Marengo196329
Pickens195331
Hale172542
Barbour169636
Butler166958
Fayette164026
Cherokee158330
Henry149219
Monroe143617
Randolph137635
Washington135426
Clay124446
Crenshaw117444
Lamar116819
Cleburne115123
Macon111935
Lowndes107935
Wilcox99921
Bullock97128
Perry95019
Conecuh92820
Sumter89126
Greene75123
Coosa59814
Choctaw50824
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