Report: CIA nominee Gina Haspel sought to withdraw from consideration

Gina Haspel sought to withdraw her nomination to become the next CIA director after White House officials raised concerns that her role in the agency's interrogation of terrorist suspects might derail her confirmation in the Senate, The Washington Post reported.

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Haspel, who would become the first woman director of the CIA if confirmed by the Senate, told the White House she was willing to step aside if it prevented a messy confirmation hearing on Wednesday, the Post reported. Haspel went to the White House on Friday to discuss her history on the CIA’s interrogation techniques, which included tactics such as waterboarding, the Post reported.

Senior White House aides, including legislative affairs head Marc Short and press secretary Sarah Sanders, met with Haspel, who is a 33-year veteran of the CIA and currently serves as deputy director. Sanders tweeted her support for Haspel in a tweet Saturday.

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

The interrogation program was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In 2002, Haspel oversaw a secret CIA detention facility in Thailand; one al-Qaeda suspect was waterboarded, the Post reported.

Three years later, Haspel was involved in the CIA’s destruction of nearly 100 videotapes that recorded the men’s interrogations, touching off an investigation by a special prosecutor who ultimately decided not to bring charges against those involved.

“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,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said. “That is true for people who disagree about nearly everything else. There is a reason for that. 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.”

Sanders declined to comment on Haspel’s offer to withdraw or internal White House discussions, the Post reported, but said Haspel is “the best of the best” and described her as a “patriot.”

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