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Top Senate intelligence Democrat to vote for Trump's CIA chief nominee

Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Mark Warner said Tuesday they will vote for ...

Posted: May 15, 2018 9:56 PM
Updated: May 15, 2018 9:56 PM

Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Mark Warner said Tuesday they will vote for Gina Haspel to be the next CIA director, all but ensuring President Donald Trump's pick to lead the agency will have enough votes to win Senate confirmation.

Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said he was supporting her nomination in what he described as a "difficult decision."

"Over the last year I've had the opportunity to work with Ms. Haspel in her role as Deputy Director, and I have always found her to be professional and forthright with the Intelligence Committee," Warner said. "Most importantly, I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the President if ordered to do something illegal or immoral -- like a return to torture."

Moments after Warner announced his position, Heitkamp also released a statement backing Haspel.

"After meeting her and talking with former leaders in our intelligence community, I have concluded that Gina Haspel meets these standards. I am therefore planning to vote to confirm her as Director of CIA," Heitkamp said in her statement. "But this was not an easy decision. Ms. Haspel's involvement in torture is deeply troubling, as my friend and colleague, John McCain, so eloquently reminded us. However, Ms. Haspel explained to me that the agency should not have employed such tactics in the past and has assured me that it will not do so in the future."

Warner and Heitkamp are now the third and fourth Democrat to support Haspel's confirmation, while two Republicans have said they will oppose her. With a 51-49 Republican majority -- and one of the GOP no votes, Sen. John McCain, out of Washington battling cancer -- additional Republicans would have to join McCain in opposing Haspel for her confirmation to be in jeopardy.

Warner's decision comes ahead of a Wednesday committee vote on her nomination, which would likely tee up a final confirmation vote in the Senate next week. Warner and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin are two Democrats on the committee who are supporting Haspel, and that vote is not in doubt.

Warner announced his backing of Haspel Tuesday after she sent the Virginia Democrat a letter stating the CIA should not have conducted the George W. Bush administration interrogation and detention program.

"While I won't condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world," Haspel wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN.

Haspel's confirmation has faced sharp criticism over her supervision of a CIA black site in Thailand where detainees were waterboarded, as well as her role in the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.

Warner appeared frustrated with Haspel's answers at her confirmation hearing last week, repeatedly asking whether she believed the interrogation program, which critics say amounted to torture, was immoral. Haspel said in the letter that the CIA was not prepared to run an interrogation program and she would not allow the agency to restart one, though she did not weigh in on whether the program itself was immoral.

In his statement, Warner there were "valid questions that have been raised regarding the Acting Director's record, and I have been frank with Ms. Haspel that I wish she had been more open with the American public during this process."

"However, in both our one-on-one meetings and in classified session before the Committee, I found Acting Director Haspel to be more forthcoming regarding her views on the interrogation program," he said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 113081

Reported Deaths: 3231
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7850176
DeSoto685779
Harrison505083
Jackson445084
Rankin388186
Madison377993
Lee350779
Forrest299578
Jones287784
Washington255199
Lafayette245943
Lauderdale2418134
Lamar221238
Bolivar200177
Oktibbeha199354
Neshoba1831111
Lowndes176362
Panola169038
Leflore165187
Sunflower159749
Warren153655
Monroe147372
Pontotoc145819
Marshall139227
Lincoln138557
Pike137756
Copiah136236
Coahoma124736
Scott124729
Grenada121138
Yazoo120733
Simpson120449
Union116525
Tate114939
Leake114340
Holmes114160
Pearl River112259
Itawamba112125
Adams106743
Prentiss103719
Wayne99821
Alcorn98112
George97718
Covington95326
Marion93542
Tippah88121
Newton85227
Chickasaw83626
Tallahatchie83025
Winston82821
Tishomingo80041
Hancock79827
Attala78926
Clarke73450
Clay68321
Jasper67717
Walthall63627
Calhoun61912
Noxubee59617
Smith58916
Montgomery53523
Claiborne53316
Tunica52817
Yalobusha51914
Lawrence50714
Perry48623
Carroll47612
Greene46918
Stone46214
Humphreys42616
Amite42113
Quitman4196
Jefferson Davis40011
Webster37013
Wilkinson33520
Benton3255
Kemper32015
Sharkey28014
Jefferson27410
Franklin2373
Choctaw2046
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 154942

Reported Deaths: 2660
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22861374
Mobile14468314
Tuscaloosa10148139
Montgomery9875196
Madison915094
Shelby720462
Lee649665
Baldwin647569
Marshall433049
Calhoun418960
Etowah418749
Morgan403635
Houston369232
DeKalb330229
Elmore314852
St. Clair287142
Limestone276530
Walker272293
Talladega261035
Cullman235724
Lauderdale214841
Jackson210015
Autauga202330
Franklin202131
Colbert196731
Russell19233
Blount189325
Dallas186227
Chilton184132
Escambia171929
Coffee171710
Covington169929
Dale165451
Chambers133643
Pike132313
Tallapoosa130587
Clarke130017
Marion106229
Butler100140
Barbour9979
Marengo99222
Winston91313
Geneva8527
Pickens82417
Lawrence82131
Randolph81216
Bibb81114
Hale74930
Clay72912
Cherokee72614
Lowndes70328
Monroe64010
Henry6396
Bullock63717
Washington63412
Crenshaw60230
Perry5836
Wilcox56212
Fayette56113
Conecuh55713
Cleburne5438
Macon52920
Sumter47021
Lamar4665
Choctaw38812
Greene34216
Coosa2023
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