Missouri Sens. McCaskill, Blunt split on approving CIA chief
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s senators split Thursday over confirming the new CIA director, with Democrat Claire McCaskill questioning whether Gina Haspel would stand up against policies violating “our country’s moral compass.”
McCaskill’s vote against Haspel drew immediate criticism from her main Republican opponent in her tough race for re-election in a state that President Donald Trump carried easily in 2016. State Attorney General Josh Hawley supported Haspel’s confirmation and accused McCaskill of taking “the liberal party line,” though she cited GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s opposition in explaining her vote.
McCain opposed Haspel’s confirmation because of her direct involvement in the spy agency’s harsh detention and interrogation program. McCain, battling brain cancer, missed the vote; most Republicans supported Haspel, along with six Democrats.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said Haspel is “exactly the right choice” to lead the agency because of her 33-year career and widespread support within the agency.
“She is the most prepared person to have ever been nominated to the post, demonstrating the highest levels of leadership and professionalism throughout her 33-year career,” Blunt said in a statement.
In her own statement, McCaskill said she respected Haspel’s service and sacrifice but concluded after meeting with Haspel and reviewing classified documents that Haspel was not “a leader who is willing to take a stand when the policies don’t reflect our values.”
“Given the nature of the CIA’s work, the agency receives little oversight. I need to have confidence that the person running it has the instincts and judgment to make decisions in line with our country’s moral compass,” McCaskill said.
Hawley derided McCaskill as a “hard partisan who only cares about obstructing the Trump agenda.”