When John McCain speaks, his fellow senators listen. Yet his call to reject Gina Haspel may not halt momentum for her bid to lead the CIA.
The Arizona Republican declared that Haspel’s “refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying” as he urged the defeat of President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee. As a decorated veteran who endured brutal interrogations as a prisoner of war, his moral authority has an undeniable hold on still-undecided senators.
But Haspel’s prospects for confirmation had already significantly brightened before McCain spoke out. Just hours earlier, she secured two critical swing votes from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who were pleased with her performance at Wednesday’s confirmation hearing.
In order to bring down her nomination, Haspel critics now have to keep other politically vulnerable red-state Democrats in the “no” camp and convince one more Republican to join Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in opposition. The veteran CIA official has drawn resistance from most Democrats for her involvement in the harsh interrogation program of the George W. Bush era.