Republican Senator: Democrats Hate Haspel Because Trump Nominated Her

By Susan Jones | May 10, 2018 | 5:12am EDT
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - "Gina Haspel did a spectacular job today. There is nobody even close to run the CIA!" President Trump tweeted on Wednesday, after Haspel's sometimes contentious confirmation hearing, where Democrats blasted her for the use of enhanced interrogation techniques at a CIA site she ran in Thailand many years ago.

Haspel was following a post-911 policy, approved by Bush administration lawyers, that did not originate with her.

President Barack Obama, in fact, refused to allow the prosecution of Bush-era CIA agents who conducted the waterboarding. "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past," Obama said in a statement in April 2009.

But Democrats on Wednesday did spend a lot of time laying blame for the past – and they laid it squarely on Haspel.

Sen. Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, was asked by CNN if he could understand Democrats' concerns about interrogation methods used in the past that are now illegal:

"Well, sure," Risch said. "They hate anything that Donald Trump does in this town."


"The people in this town, many of them hate Trump so bad that no matter who he nominates, they're going to raise anything they can. You just hit the nail on the head, and that is that the interrogation had nothing to do with her. They're trying to get her to answer for this one. She was not involved in that," Risch said.

"So no, I don't understand, in response directly to your question. I don't understand their raising that. This is a woman who is incredibly qualified to do this. She will be a great head of this agency. I'm looking forward to seeing her confirmed. Like I said, I'll sleep better tonight."

Democrats, along with ailing Republican Sen. John McCain, were particularly offended that Haspel refused to declare past interrogations methods immoral.

Are you okay with Haspel's "non-answers," CNN's John Berman asked Sen. Risch.

"What I'm okay with is long discussions I have had with her," Risch responded. "Her view is exactly the same as mine, and that is that torture is wrong. It's not the American way. And furthermore, that program has been gone long before I ever got here. It's illegal in the united States. I have every confidence she won't do anything that would go anywhere near that kind of a program."

"And she made that clear as part of the hearing today, as part of her testimony?" Berman asked.

"She did. Thank you for recognizing that," Risch said.

Also See:
CIA Director Nominee: ‘I Would Not Restart Under Any Circumstances an Interrogation Program at CIA’

CIA Nominee to Sen. Reed: It's Wrong to Compare CIA Officers With Terrorists

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