As the CIA wheeled a single cardboard box of classified material related to the highly secretive and reportedly torture-filled record of Gina Haspel—President Donald Trump's pick to head the agency—into the basement of the Capitol building on Monday, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) emerged from his meeting with Haspel gushing about their "great" conversation and suggested he's "open" to voting for her confirmation.
"The American people have a right to know about the new propaganda campaign that the CIA is now waging on behalf of Gina Haspel even as it hides her responsibility for torture and role in destruction of torture evidence."
—Dror Ladin, ACLU
Manchin's position raises serious questions about whether Democrats will be able to form a united coalition to block Haspel's confirmation, particularly after six so-called moderate Democrats broke ranks just last month to back Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In addition to meeting with Manchin, Haspel also sat down with Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) ahead of her Wednesday confirmation hearing, which will come just days after she reportedly considered withdrawing her nomination.
Citing an anonymous Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee source, The Atlantic reported on Monday that Feinstein will "likely" vote yes on Haspel.
Since Trump announced Haspel as his pick to head the CIA, human rights groups have raised concerns that Haspel's full record may not be made available to the Senate as it prepares for her confirmation hearing.
Further complicating matters is the fact that Haspel, as current acting director of the CIA, has control over what is and isn't handed over to senators for review.
Last Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) accused the CIA of using its "personnel and resources" to wage a "propaganda campaign" in support of Haspel and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request demanding information about the agency's efforts.
"The American people have a right to know about the new propaganda campaign that the CIA is now waging on behalf of Gina Haspel even as it hides her responsibility for torture and role in destruction of torture evidence," ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a statement.
In an appearance on MSNBC Monday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) argued the CIA is carrying out an "A to Z cover-up" of Haspel's record by selectively declassifying documents and spreading "out-and-out misinformation" in support of the acting CIA chief.
The @CIA is partaking in an A-Z cover-up of nominee Gina Haspel’s record by selectively declassifying information and stonewalling. The American people deserve to know who Haspel and is and her role during her time at the CIA. pic.twitter.com/m2Szh2WnHx
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) May 7, 2018