With a statement on Saturday that doesn't once mention the word "torture," Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) became the second Democrat to announce his support for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to head the CIA, significantly increasing her chances of being confirmed.
Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly says he’ll support Trump nominee for CIA Director. Fails to mention her complicity in torture but favorably cites endorsement of former officials who oversaw warrantless wiretapping program and drone campaign. https://t.co/M5Dw0Ioo6B
— Jameel Jaffer (@JameelJaffer) May 12, 2018
"Joe Donnelly is a coward," the advocacy group People for Bernie wrote in response to the Indiana senator's announcement.
Donnelly's endorsement comes just days after Haspel's confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, during which she repeatedly refused to say torture is immoral and denied that the CIA has ever even engaged in torture.
While anti-war groups, civil libertarians, and many journalists were appalled by Haspel's "horrid" hearing performance—the current acting director of the CIA insisted that she is just a "typical middle-class American" with a strong "moral compass" despite her role in the Bush administration's torture program—Donnelly vaguely said in his statement that he believes Haspel "has learned from the past."
With two Democrats now backing her nomination—the first to do so was Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who announced his support earlier this week—Haspel is on track to sail through the Senate, provided that no other Republicans join Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in opposition.