Independent Sen. Angus King said Thursday that he opposed Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA following her confirmation hearing because he wasn’t satisfied with her justification for participating in the destruction of tapes that showed waterboarding.
“They had opinions from the attorney general (on the legality of waterboarding). It was an order from the President. They felt they were doing something important to protect the country,” King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, told CNN’s “New Day.” “That argument doesn’t apply when you get to 2005 and she was participating in the order to destroy the videotapes in the midst of congressional discussions of a possible investigation. That’s what really bothered me.”
“I just felt throughout the hearing and in the classified hearing later on that afternoon she wasn’t forthcoming,” King added.
Republicans are expected to need at least a few members of the minority to confirm Haspel, who faces opposition from Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, who is not expected to return to Washington to vote on her confirmation while battling brain cancer.
King said he believes it is an “inherent conflict of interest” for Haspel to be “the decider in the CIA about what gets declassified in terms of her record” and said that more materials should be shared.
One of the issues “hovering over the hearing” was President Donald Trump’s embrace of bringing back banned torture techniques, King noted.
“It does create a difficult situation,” he said, later adding, “He thinks it worked and we should do more. It does put (Haspel) in a difficult position based on what she said yesterday. I don’t know whether it will come to that.”