WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul said on Wednesday he would oppose President Donald Trump’s nomination of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state and CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to become the new director of the CIA.
Paul’s opposition could be a problem especially for Haspel, who has faced strong criticism for overseeing a secret Central Intelligence Agency prison in Thailand where detainees were tortured.
Paul said Pompeo and Haspel both supported war in Iraq and want war in Iran, which he opposes, and criticized both for supporting the use of waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques widely considered torture.
Pompeo, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, was confirmed as CIA director with the support of two-thirds of the Senate early last year. Many legislators have said they are happy with his management of the agency.
Trump’s fellow Republicans have a 51-49 majority in the 100-member Senate so it would take little dissent from Republicans to block a nomination, if Democrats stand together against them.
Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, also has expressed doubts about Haspel. However, McCain has not been in Washington this year as he undergoes treatment for cancer at home in Arizona.
Paul is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will hold Pompeo’s confirmation hearing.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Bill Trott