Sen. Rand Paul said on Wednesday that he plans to vote against confirming Gina Haspel as CIA director. The Kentucky Republican also said that he will oppose Mike Pompeo’s nomination for Secretary of State.
In a press conference, Paul outlined his positions. While discussing Haspel, he read from documents recounting her tenure leading a “black site” in Thailand where a number of suspected terrorists were tortured, including one who was waterboarded 83 times in a month before investigators decided that he had no useful information, according to the documents and a Senate report on the program.
Paul said, “My opposition to [Haspel] is over her direct participation in interrogation and her lethal enjoyment at the suffering of someone being tortured.” Later, he added, “I find it just amazing that anyone would consider having this woman at the head of the CIA.”
In stating his positions, Paul becomes the first Republican to come out against both Pompeo and Haspel. Democrat Dianne Feinstein has been critical of Haspel previously, including in 2013 when Haspel was up for a role leading the National Clandestine Service within the agency and Feinstein blocked her promotion.
Paul took issue with Pompeo’s support for the Iraq war, and he was the only Republican to vote against confirming Pompeo as CIA director.
Haspel is likely to face a very difficult confirmation hearing, there are only 51 Republicans in the senate and Sen. John McCain hasn’t voted in months as he is at home in Arizona fighting brain cancer. If many more Republicans follow Paul’s lead and back away from supporting Haspel, it’s hard to see a road to confirmation for her.