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History made as Haspel confirmed by Senate, becoming first woman to run the CIA

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Gina Haspel was confirmed in a 54-45 vote by the Senate on Tuesday, making her the first woman to hold the top job at the CIA. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's nominee to take over as director of the Central Intelligence Agency has been confirmed by the Senate. In a 54-45 vote on Thursday, Gina Haspel was officially named to become the first woman to lead the agency.

Republican Sens. Rand Paul (K.Y.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) previously announced that they would vote against Haspel's confirmation, and Sen. John McCain urged the Senate to reject her nomination. McCain was unable to cast a vote, however, as he was at home battling cancer.

A number of lawmakers from the left reached across the aisle to support the president's nominee, most notably the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner (Va.).

Before the vote, Warner said, "Gina Haspel is among one of the most qualified people to be nominated to be director of the CIA. I feel safer knowing the CIA has Miss Haspel at the helm...I believe Gina Haspel should be confirmed. I look forward to supporting her."

Haspel was most recently the deputy director of the CIA, and has served in the spy agency for 33 years. During her confirmation hearing, she told senators, "It is not my way to trumpet the fact that I am a woman up for the top job, but I would be remiss in not remarking on it — not least because of the outpouring of support from young women at CIA who consider it a good sign for their own prospects."

The road to confirming Haspel was not without bumps, however, as the nominee nearly withdrew her name from consideration at one point. Some senators expressed reservations about Haspel, citing previous interrogation tactics utilized by the CIA under her watch as senior leader in the Counterterrorism Center in the early 2000s.

Several Democrats echoed McCain's statement on Haspel's nomination, where he said, "I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense. However, Ms. Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing."

But Haspel was able to win support from more than enough lawmakers from the left, after appeasing some by assuring Sen. Warner in a letter on Tuesday that "with the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken."

Following the announcement of Haspel's confirmation, President Trump took to Twitter to congratulate her.

 

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