White House Expects Vicious Attacks On CIA Nominee As Confirmation Battle Heats Up

CIA/Handout via Reuters

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent

The Trump administration expects attacks on Gina Haspel, its nominee for CIA director, to materialize ahead of her testimony before the U.S. Senate next week, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told a roundtable Friday.

Short lamented the attacks in recent weeks on Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson who was briefly nominated to be the secretary of veterans affairs. “We would expect some more antics with Gina in the coming days,” Short told the assembled group. “We’re trying to get her story out before members come back.”

“She may be incredibly well qualified, but we live in a very politically charged environment right now,” Short continued, noting, “We recognize the environment we face.” The legislative director referenced Jackson’s brief reckoning with an array of allegations that he had a drinking problem, overprescribed medicine and fostered a hostile work environment within the White House medical unit.

Jackson withdrew his name from consideration after the allegations surfaced, but insisted “the allegations against me are completely false and fabricated.”

Haspel is slated to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week where she is likely to face increasing questions over her role in the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program in the mid-2000s. She joined the CIA in 1985 and has served in a variety of different postings across the globe.

“She’s one of the most qualified, most capable individuals ever nominated to lead the CIA. We are seeing widespread support from across the political spectrum and within the intelligence community,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday, adding, “With planning and preparations underway for the summit with North Korea, and with Secretary Pompeo now engaged from the State Department, Republicans and Democrats should come together and confirm Gina Haspel as the Director of the CIA.”