Sen. Rand Paul Warns That Haspel Is Close to John Brennan: What Does She Know About Trump Surveillance?

By Susan Jones | May 16, 2018 | 5:37am EDT
Depite Sen. Rand Paul's objections, Gina Haspel is expected to be confirmed as the next CIA director. The intelligence committee is expected to approve her nomination on May 16, then send it on to the full Senate. (Photo: Screen grab/C-SPAN)

( - Sen. Rand Paul's concerns about making Gina Haspel the next CIA director go beyond the enhanced interrogation of terror suspects at CIA black sites.

On Tuesday, Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News's Neil Cavuto that Haspel is a "close acolyte" of former CIA Director John Brennan, a Trump hater. And Sen. Paul wants to know what Haspel may know about CIA involvement in surveillance of the Trump campaign.

Well, you know, I'm concerned that there are reports that John Brennan, the former head of the CIA under President Obama, that he was cooperating with British intelligence to spy on the Trump campaign.

This is a big deal. Now, some are saying, oh, it was just incidentally collected. It's still a big deal. And there is a question -- there are some accusations it was actually ordered by President Obama's administration, either through John Brennan or others.

Gina Haspel is the acting director of the CIA. She is high enough up in the CIA. I think we should know what she knows about whether the Trump campaign was surveilled upon.

We do know that John Brennan, since he has left government, has become an outspoken partisan against the president in very defamatory terms. So, yes, I'm concerned about Gina Haspel being a close acolyte of John Brennan.

I also would like to know from her before she is appointed, if she is indeed appointed, I would like to know, what does she know about the surveillance of the Trump campaign and why was the CIA involved?

Cavuto asked Paul if he thinks Gina Haspel shares John Brennan's contempt for President Trump:

"I think that she is a close acolyte of John Brennan. So, I think some have called her a protege. And I worry that now we have seen John Brennan's stripes. We have seen that he is a dyed-in-the-wool partisan, a hater of Donald Trump.

"And so I don't want people running our intelligence agencies that have an axe to grind or have some sort of partisanship lurking beneath the service."

Paul has sent a letter to Haspel, asking her for "clarification" on CIA surveillance of various political campaigns, including Trump's.

Paul told Cavuto there are "many reasons" why he opposes Haspel's nomination.

"Number one still is torture," he said. "We shouldn't reward somebody who was in charge of a torture program."

Number two, the CIA was sending people to be tortured in Syria, Paul said. "The problem is, about 20 percent of the people that were tortured were the wrong identity. We got the wrong people. And that just is a mistake and a dark period in our history. And we shouldn't reward someone like Gina Haspel."

Haspel is expected to get enough Democrat votes -- including that of Sen. Mark Warner, ranking member of the intelligence committee -- when the committee votes behind closed doors on this Wednesday. Then the full Senate is expected to confirm her nomination, despite Sen. Paul's objections and Sen. John McCain's absence.


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