Obama CIA Director: Trump's CIA Pick Is 'Best Person Within CIA to Do This Job'

April 5, 2018

Former CIA Director John Brennan on Thursday said President Donald Trump's nominee for CIA director "is the best person within CIA to do the job."

Brennan appeared on MSNBC where he defended nominee Gina Haspel's background working with "enhanced interrogation" methods during the George W. Bush administration.

Host Katy Tur asked Brennan whether there were any CIA operatives who were qualified to lead the agency and weren't involved in "overseeing torture."

"Quite frankly, I think Gina Haspel is the best person within CIA to do the job. She is a dedicated experienced professional. She has over 30 years of experience working on some very tough issues," Brennan said.

He went on to say she was "part of a covert action program that was authorized by the President of the United States, that was deemed lawful by the highest legal body within the Executive Branch–that's the Office of Legal Counsel [at the] Department of Justice–a program that was briefed to congressional oversight committees who authorized appropriate funds for it, and some of those members happen to have amnesia."

Brennan went on to say Haspel was carrying out a "duly authorized, legal program" and she should be given an opportunity to speak to her experience as a whole.

"Her nomination should be given the appropriate scrutiny by the Senate Intelligence Committee. They should look at her record. They should look at what she did," Brennan said. "But she was carrying out a duly authorized, legal program. And as controversial as it is, and as many of us had objections to how it was directed for the CIA to do this, I think she needs to be given a fair hearing."

This is not the first time that Brennan has defended the nominee. Shortly after Trump nominated Haspel, Brennan told MSNBC's Hallie Jackson that Haspel "deserves the chance to take the helm at the CIA."

"Gina Haspel has a lot of integrity," Brennan said. "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."

Haspel was nominated by Trump in March to replace Mike Pompeo as CIA chief. Pompeo, in turn, was nominated to replace Rex Tillerson as the next secretary of state.