'Win Gina,' says Trump, defending his pick for CIA director

Reuters Washington, DC, USA May 07, 2018, 07.57 PM(IST)

US Central Intelligence Agency director nominee Gina Haspel (centre) attends Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's ceremonial swearing-in at the State Department in Washington May 2. Photograph:( Reuters )

US President Donald Trump on Monday defended his pick to run the CIA after US media reports surfaced that she had sought to withdraw from the nomination over concerns about her involvement in the agency's interrogation program.

Gina Haspel is expected to face a brutal confirmation hearing in the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, and the Washington Post reported this weekend that she had offered to withdraw her nomination for fear the hearing would damage the CIA.

"My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists ... Win Gina!" Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

Critics of Haspel's nomination have taken issue with her role in a defunct program in which the CIA detained and interrogated al Qaeda suspects in secret prisons abroad using techniques, including waterboarding, widely condemned as torture.

Many details of Haspel's work remain classified.

Politico reported on Monday that Haspel will meet with a trio of Democratic senators on the intelligence panel ahead of her confirmation hearing.

Trump nominated Haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the intelligence agency, to succeed Mike Pompeo, who has become the secretary of state.