Republican Sen. Rand Paul said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that he would take all necessary steps to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominees for secretary of state and CIA director.
“I’ll do whatever it takes, and that includes filibuster,” Paul said.
Paul, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, previously indicated he would oppose Trump’s decision to move CIA Director Mike Pompeo to the State Department and CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to the top post at the agency.
The Kentucky senator said Sunday his opposition came from Pompeo’s support for regime change abroad and Haspel’s history with CIA torture.
Paul has made regular use of the filibuster or other lengthy floor speeches during his time in the Senate, tipping the government into a brief shutdown last month, and attempting to stall John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director in 2013.
In the interview Sunday, Paul called on others to support him, including California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Paul said he takes issue with Pompeo’s hawkish statements and does not think the congressman turned spy chief would be a “good fit” for the nation’s top diplomatic post.
“I don’t think our policy ought to be for regime change,” Paul said.
On Haspel, Paul said, “What America stands for is not torture.”
“Torture is the hallmark of totalitarianism,” Paul continued.
Paul cited Haspel’s reported position leading a CIA “black site” in Thailand and subsequent part in an order to destroy video evidence of interrogations as reasons he thought it would be “inappropriate” for the Senate to confirm her to the post.
“It’s just inconsistent with who we are as a people to have someone run our spy agency, that has all this enormous power, who is intimately involved with torture and from everything we’re reading was supportive of the policy,” Paul said.
Paul has taken heat from some corners of his party for his avowed opposition to Haspel’s nomination. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, tweeted that Paul is “defending and sympathizing with terrorists.”
Responding on Sunday, Paul called the tweet “juvenile” and said both Cheneys “could spend a lifetime trying to justify” the death incurred as a result of the Iraq War.
“Until they’ve proved that they know anything about the world, I think they probably just ought to be quiet,” Paul said.