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Sen. Joe Donnelly to back Trump's Central Intelligence Agency pick

Sen. Joe Donnelly to back Trump's Central Intelligence Agency pick

Both Donnelly and Manchin - who serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that must approve Haspel's nomination before Donnelly and the rest of the chamber confirms her - face hard midterm fights this year in states that voted for Trump in 2016.

While anti-war groups, civil libertarians, and many journalists were appalled by Haspel's "horrid" hearing performance-the current acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency insisted that she is just a "typical middle-class American" with a strong "moral compass" despite her role in the Bush administration's torture program-Donnelly vaguely said in his statement that he believes Haspel "has learned from the past". While some senators still have not publicly declared their position, Donnelly's backing is likely to give Haspel enough support to win at least 50 votes, the bare minimum for confirmation.

But Donnelly said that after his conversation and reviewing her testimony he would back her.

Donnelly voiced his support for Haspel on Twitter Saturday morning, saying he believes Haspel learned from the past and has the experience needed as the US faces "dynamic and challenging security threats". And Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced this week that he will back Haspel. Both senators represent states with widespread support for Trump, and they face tough midterm challenges in November. But it has had limited impact in the Senate, where Haspel was gaining support. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, told Fox News this week that he expected Haspel to be confirmed "handily". Shortly after the hearing adjourned, Manchin, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared his support for Haspel.

A White House official dismissed McCain's opposition to Haspel during a staff meeting, saying "it doesn't matter" because "he's dying anyway, " two people in the room said.

But her supporters point to her more the 30 years of experience as an undercover operative for the CIA as evidence of her ability to lead the agency.

Haspel, the CIA's acting director and a career intelligence officer, faced grilling at the Senate Intelligence Committee about her role overseeing some CIA operations in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote on Haspel next week, and the full Senate later this month. But, any potential damage done by this lack of support for could be negated by Democratic Sen.

"I've always shared McCain's views on torture and looked up to him on this", Flake told reporters this week.

Over the past few days, Mike Braun, the Republican nominee for Senate in IN, attacked Donnelly for being undecided on Haspel's nomination and playing a political game with his vote, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky - has voiced his opposition to Haspel. And in 2005, under her boss's direction, she drafted a cable ordering the agency to destroy more than 90 videotapes of its interrogation of that man.

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