WASHINGTON — A second Democratic senator has announced his support for President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee.
Joe Donnelly of Indiana says in a statement Saturday that he made his decision after “a tough, frank and extensive discussion” with Gina Haspel, the spy agency’s acting director.
The other Democrat who’s come out for Haspel is West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. Both Democrats are considered to be among the most vulnerable Senate incumbents in the November election.
So far two Republicans have announced their opposition to Haspel: Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Arizona’s John McCain, who’s battling cancer and isn’t expected to be present for the voting.
Supporters are pushing for votes by the Senate intelligence committee and the full Senate before the Senate’s Memorial Day break.
The GOP holds a 51-49 edge, and Vice President Mike Pence can break a possible tie.
Haspel has run into criticism because she was once involved in the CIA’s harsh interrogation program.
“I believe that she has learned from the past, and that the CIA under her leadership can help our country confront serious international threats and challenges,” Donnelly says in the statement.
Donnelly came under attack from Trump at a rally in Indiana on Thursday, two days after the state’s primary election determined that his Republican opponent in November will be former Indiana lawmaker Mike Braun.
Trump, who was joined at the rally by Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor, urged GOP voters to mobilize and prevent Democrats from regaining control of Congress.
The president called Donnelly “Sleepin’ Joe” and criticized the senator for opposing his tax plan and attempt to end the Affordable Care Act.
Donnelly responded by saying “problems only get solved when you roll up your sleeves and put in the hard work,” and his campaign said he had voted with Trump 62 percent of the time.
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