Unwilling to further discredit the CIA's already quite controversial "enhanced interrogation" techniques used on suspected terrorists, 61-year-old Haspel reportedly asked, at a White House meeting on Friday, to have her nomination as the next Central Intelligence Agency director withdrawn, both the Washington Post and Reuters reported, citing sources.
Haspel was summoned to the White House on Friday, the paper said, for a meeting to discuss her history in the interrogation program that employed techniques including waterboarding that have been widely condemned as torture.
The Washington Post reports that CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel wanted to pull out over questions about her involvement with an interrogation program. That was when she said she would step aside to avoid a senate intelligence committee confirmation hearing on Wednesday that could damage the CIA, the officials said.
On Friday she was at the White House to explain her position on torture.
Short, the White House legislative affairs director, told Haspel she could still be confirmed despite the information that had recently come to attention of the White House - and the administration expected some Democrats to support her, officials said.
The last-minute scramble came ahead of what is expected to be a tough grilling of Ms. Haspel over her role in the C.I.A.'s interrogation program created in the wake of the September 11 attacks, including secret prisons the agency established around the world to interrogate suspects.
Two sources said Haspel participated in a practice session Friday - called a "murder board" - to prepare for the hearing, a sign the nomination was moving forward.
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Haspel feared becoming "the next Ronny Jackson", the White House physician who withdrew his nomination as Veterans Affairs secretary amid questions about alleged misconduct on the job, one official told the Post.
The Post said Trump wants Haspel to remain as nominee.
By Saturday, Haspel had agreed to continue with her nomination, officials told the Post.
"There has been a fascinating phenomenon over the last few weeks". She served nearly entirely undercover and much of her record is classified.
Since May 3, the White House has been releasing many positive testimonials of Haspel, according to CBS News. "When the individuals ultimately have a possiblity to see the true Gina Haspel on Wednesday, they will know why she's is really admired and why she's is and will soon be a great leader for this company".
She has received robust backing from former intelligence, diplomatic, military and national security officials, who praise her extensive intelligence career.