Dem Senator: I Will Vote Against Haspel Because I’m ‘Not a Huge Fan of Waterboarding’

Jon Tester / Getty Images
• May 8, 2018 8:26 pm


Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) on Tuesday said that he would not be supporting President Donald Trump's CIA director nominee Gina Haspel because he is "not a huge fan of waterboarding."

Tester, who is facing an uphill reelection battle in a state that Trump won by over 20 points during the 2016 presidential election, cited Haspel's involvement with with the CIA's controversial interrogation program during the early 2000's after the 9/11 terrorist attacks for his opposition to Haspel, according to CNN.

"I'm not a huge fan of waterboarding," Tester told CNN on Capitol Hill.

This is not the first time that Tester has been opposed to one of Trump's nominees. Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, raised concerns last month about Ronny Jackson, Trump's nominee for secretary of veterans affairs.

Some of the allegations waged against Jackson included "loosely handled prescription pain medications while serving in the White House medical unit, was intoxicated during an overseas trip, and created a toxic work environment," according to CNN.

Trump responded to the allegations by saying that Tester would have a "big price to pay in Montana" for torpedoing Jackson's nomination.

Haspel, who has the support of several intelligence officials from the Obama administration, has worked for the CIA since 1985, and if confirmed, she will be the first female CIA director.

"I think the world of Gina," said former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. "I think she is a tremendous intelligence officer. I've worked with her on occasion when she served overseas. She had a second hat as the DNI representative and she was great, so I think she will be good for the agency."

"Gina Haspel has a lot of integrity. She has tried to carry out her duties at the CIA to the best of her ability, even when the CIA was asked to do some very difficult things in very challenging times," former CIA Director John Brennan said. "Gina, again, is a very competent professional who I think deserves the chance to take the helm at the CIA."

"She is widely respected throughout the agency and she will be welcomed in the new job by both current and former employees. I worked closely with Haspel from 2006 until my retirement from the Agency in 2013," former President Obama's former CIA deputy director Mike Morrell said. "During that time, I found her to be simply exceptional. She gets things done in a quiet, yet effective way, and she is calm under fire."

"She has a proven track record in multiple assignments of being able to work productively with key foreign partners as well as the FBI. She is extremely smart, strong and unfailingly honest," Obama's National Clandestine Service Director John Bennett said. "She is totally committed to the CIA’s mission. … It will be very reassuring for the CIA work force that the president has selected a respected career professional to be the next DCIA."