(CNSNews.com) - During CIA nominee Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing Wednesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) took issue with Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) assertion that the attorney general’s legal approval of the CIA’s interrogation program was a “get out of jail free card” for Haspel.
Cotton also wondered how many votes Haspel would receive if she were nominated by former President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton if she had won the election.
“In fact, if you had been nominated by President Obama or if Hillary Clinton had won and nominated you to be CIA director, how many votes do you think you would have gotten to be confirmed as CIA director? You don’t have to answer,” Cotton said.
“I also have to take exception to what Senator Warner said when he called an opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel that was signed off by the attorney general of the United States a get out of jail free card,” he said.
“Do you believe acting under the legal approval of the attorney general that you or any other CIA officer should have gone to jail and you needed a get out of jail free card? You can answer that one please,” Cotton said.
“Senator, CIA follows the law,” Haspel replied.
Cotton also pointed out that the CIA’s interrogation programs were approved by the president, attorney general, and the CIA director at the time - a Democrat.
“These programs were to the best of your understanding approved by the commander-in-chief, legally approved by the attorney general, supported by the director of the CIA, who I pointed out at the time was the former Democratic staff director of this committee. Is that correct?” Cotton asked.
“That’s true, senator,” Haspel replied.
Former CIA Director John Brennan, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, was in the number four position at the agency at the time that the interrogation program was in effect, Haspel noted.
Cotton also pointed out that Brennan was confirmed as CIA director in 2013 by Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.