Former CIA director Michael Hayden on Tuesday said President Donald Trump's CIA director nominee Gina Haspel is the "absolute best choice."
Hayden, a retired four-star general who served as CIA director under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, appeared on "The Hugh Hewitt Show" to discuss his new book, titled The Assault On Intelligence: American National Security In An Age of Lies. Hewitt asked Hayden whether he agreed with Sen. Tom Cotton's (R., Ark.) prediction Haspel will receive bipartisan support from the Senate Intelligence Committee and a bipartisan confirmation soon after.
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"I certainly concur that it ought to happen, and I’ll defer to the senator. And that is really good news, because I know how contentious–unfairly contentious–this has been for Gina," Hayden said. "Hugh, she is the absolute best choice to be the director of CIA. And when people want to bring up the past, I’m happy to relitigate that if they like. But I want to talk about the present and the future."
Hewitt agreed with Hayden on focusing on the future but added it was important to have Hayden's endorsement of Haspel given criticism she has received because of her involvement in the CIA's post-9/11 torture program.
"Absolutely. She’s the best athlete available in the draft, to go back to the earlier conversation," Hayden said.
Hayden is not the only former intelligence official to voice support for Haspel's confirmation. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN back in March that he "think[s] she is a tremendous intelligence officer." Former CIA Director John Brennan also praised Haspel, saying "she deserves the chance to take the helm" at the CIA.
Haspel has worked for the CIA since 1985, and if confirmed, she will be the first female CIA director.