Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin Says He'll Vote for Gina Haspel Despite Her History with Torture
West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin will vote to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director, despite her history of involvement with the agency's torture methods — euphemistically called "enhanced interrogation" — carried out during President George W. Bush's administration.
The majority of Senate Democrats are expected to vote against Haspel, who is currently serving as the acting CIA director. Haspel's involvement in torture, as well as in the destruction of tapes that documented these practices that have since been deemed illegal, became a flashpoint of controversy following her nomination by President Donald Trump.
Kentucky's Sen. Rand Paul is the only Republican expected to vote against the nomination, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is not expected to vote as he is out of town due to poor health. That means the president needed at least one Democratic vote for Haspel's nomination to be secured, and Manchin's spokesperson told CNN Wednesday that he will deliver that vote.
Manchin is one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus, and his upcoming race in the 2018 midterms could be a vulnerability for his party. West Virginia is a deeply Republican state, and Manchin has only prevailed there politically by establishing his own personal brand as distinct from the national Democratic Party. Tuesday's West Virginia primary races, in which Manchin was victorious, may have brought home for the senator the potential of a contentious race in November, prompting him to bolster his non-partisan image by crossing party lines to back Haspel.