President Trump is stepping up to defend Gina Haspel, his nominee to lead the CIA following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's exit, after reports surfaced that she offered to withdraw her nomination during a meeting at the White House over the weekend.
Blaming Democrats for obstructing Haspel's nomination because she was "too tough on terrorists", Trump insisted that his pick is the "most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror" before ending his tweet with "Win Gina!"
My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
Questions about Haspel's suitability for the role have centered around the harsh interrogation techniques, which many have likened to torture, despite their continued defense by neocons like National Security Advisor John Bolton. Haspel - who is widely believed to be the inspiration behind one of the main characters from "Zero Dark Thirty" - ran a black site in Thailand that used waterboarding and other controversial techniques on detainees who'd been captured in the CIA's rendition program.
Gina Haspel, chatting with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner
Haspel is facing a difficult confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Despite her 33 years of service, Democratic lawmakers are expected to zero in on her service during the war on terror, which they say should disqualify her from the top job at the agency. Haspel has said she would oppose reintroducing the techniques used in these programs. Furthermore, Haspel has also been accused of destroying evidence of the near fatal waterboarding of terror suspect and Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah.
The Hill reported last week that the Trump administration had drafted a 27-page memo of "talking points" meant to bolster the standing on Gina Haspel during her nomination hearing.
Supporters of Haspel have been pressed to vouch that "she is an 'intelligence and national security expert' who follows the law as written, and has demonstrated strong and clear leadership in very challenging positions."
In a recent reality check, Truth in Media's Ben Swann looked at the allegations that are being scrutinized by Democrats, including Haspel's supervision of "Cat's Eye," the CIA black-site program.
Of course, if Haspel does withdraw, it'd be a terrible embarrassment to the Trump administration, which also saw another of its nominees, former White House doctor Ronny Jackson, withdraw his nomination to lead the Department of Veteran's Affairs.