Count Bill Nelson among those Democrats willing to buck party lines to vote for Gina Haspel as the next director of the CIA.
Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he met with Haspel Tuesday afternoon to discuss her nomination. Afterward, he committed to voting for her.
“Gina Haspel has dedicated her life to serving her country and the brave men and women who work at the CIA deserve a career professional, like her, to lead them,” Nelson said. “Gina Haspel has publicly acknowledged that the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program should not have been undertaken and has vowed to uphold our nation’s laws and values in leading the agency. She has earned the respect and backing of former intelligence chiefs from the Bush and Obama administrations. I will vote to support her nomination to be the next director of the CIA.”
Nelson’s vote joins those announced early by other Democrats, notably Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. The New York Times reports that Senate President Mitch McConnell of Kentucky now expects to call for a confirmation vote by the end of this week and Haspel now is expected to be confirmed.
Nelson, on the fence until now, has seen some re-election pressure Tuesday to vote for Haspel, with Republican opponent Gov. Rick Scott putting out an ad accusing him of being too party-line Democrat, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee running digital ads in Florida encouraging voters to urge him to support her nomination.
Yet Nelson cited her declaration that the “enhanced interrogation program” she once oversaw — other Democrats called it torture — was wrong, and that other intelligence chiefs praised her.