Sen. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday he’ll vote for Gina Haspel to be the next CIA director, the first Democratic senator to do so publicly since she testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I have found Gina Haspel to be a person of great character,” Manchin said in a statement. “Over her 33 year career as a CIA operations officer, she has worked in some of the most dangerous corners of our world and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices she has made for our country. She has earned the trust of her colleagues in the intelligence community and her intellect, steady temperament, vast knowledge of threats we face, and dedication to our country are undeniable. These attributes make her supremely qualified to serve as our next CIA Director.”
His decision was first reported by NBC.
Manchin, who is up for re-election in a state that President Donald Trump won by a wide margin in 2016, has voted with the Republican conference in the past.
With Manchin’s vote, Republicans inch closer to being able to confirm Haspel to the position. John Cornyn, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said Wednesday he was confident Haspel would have the votes to be confirmed. Republicans hold 51 seats in the chamber, but GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he’ll vote against Haspel and Sen. John McCain has been recovering from cancer treatment in his home state of Arizona, meaning Republicans are expected to need at least a few Democrats to confirm her nomination.
Democrats grilled Haspel on Wednesday during her confirmation hearing about her role in the George W. Bush administration interrogation and detention program, specifically her involvement in the 2005 destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.
CNN’s Lauren Fox and Manu Raju contributed to this report.