Trump Legislative Aide `Confident' CIA Nominee Will Be Confirmed

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s legislative liaison Marc Short said Monday he is “confident” the Senate will confirm the president’s nominee to lead the CIA despite her oversight of a facility where a U.S. captive was tortured.

The fight over Gina Haspel’s confirmation to the post has renewed controversy over the CIA’s torture of terror suspects in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A Senate committee hearing on her nomination is scheduled for Wednesday.

“I’m confident she’ll get confirmed,” Short said in an interview on MSNBC.

President Donald Trump defended Haspel in a tweet Monday morning, saying Democrats oppose her because “she is too tough on terror.”

The New York Times has reported that in 2002 Haspel oversaw a CIA prison in Thailand, where it said an al-Qaeda suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was waterboarded three times. Trump said in a January 2017 interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity that waterboarding “was just short of torture.”

“Do I believe it works? Yes, I do,” he said, while adding that Defense Secretary James Mattis had advised him against allowing use of the technique.

Haspel has also been criticized for her role in drafting a memo sent by her boss at the CIA calling for the destruction of videotapes of the interrogation of terror suspects. The tapes were destroyed before congressional investigators could view them. A special prosecutor declined to press charges after investigating the episode.

The Washington Post and Associated Press, citing unnamed officials, reported over the weekend that Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination if the confirmation fight would be too damaging to the CIA’s reputation.

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