Red State Democrat Doug Jones To Vote Against Haspel Nomination
At least one red state Democrat will be voting against Gina Haspel.
Alabama Senator Doug Jones, who defeated the embattled Roy Moore in December to become Alabama’s junior Senator, has announced that he’ll be voting against Gina Haspel’s nomination to be C.I.A. Director:
Red-state Democratic Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) said Tuesday that he will oppose CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the spy agency.
Jones pointed to Haspel’s role in the George W. Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” programs — now widely viewed as torture — as key to his opposition to her.
“There is a legal and moral responsibility that comes with operating in secrecy. Some of Ms. Haspel’s past actions and beliefs did not meet that standard. We must choose leaders that consistently embody our highest ideals, rather than our darkest moments,” he said in a statement.
Jones added that Haspel’s role is “very troubling.”
Jones’s announcement comes as Haspel appears to have a lock on the confirmation, with several Democratic senators coming out in support of her on Tuesday.
Though Haspel is a veteran CIA official, her nomination is considered controversial because of her time running a CIA black site and the destruction of videotapes of the interrogation of an al Qaeda suspect.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote on Haspel’s nomination on Wednesday. She could then get a vote on the Senate floor as soon as this week.
This news came at roughly the same time that the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to advance Haspel’s nomination to the Senate floor. In the committee vote, Ranking Democratic member Mark Warner and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin joined the committee’s eight Democrats to support Haspel’s nomination, with the remaining five Democrats voting against her. As noted, it’s expected that Haspel’s nomination will be taken up on the Senate floor rather quickly and we could see a final floor vote as later this week. That vote will ultimately result in Haspel’s confirmation given the support of both Warner and Manchin, and the fact that Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly will also be voting in favor of her nomination. Additionally, late yesterday Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida announced that they too will support Haspel on the Senate floor. This means that there will be more than enough votes to confirm her nomination in the final vote.
Jone’s decision to vote against Haspel is interesting, though, given the fact that, as Ed Morrissey notes, he’s likely to face the same dilemma that Manchin and Donnelly are facing this year when he runs for re-election in 2020:
Jones will still have lots of explaining to do with Alabama voters when his turn comes around in two years. He only occupies that seat because of the epic faceplant by Republicans last year in backing Roy Moore in a special-election primary, and Jones barely beat him despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore, some involving underaged girls. Republicans won’t make the same mistake twice, and Alabama voters will hardly embrace an incumbent who wants to position himself to Mark Warner’s left.
To be honest, Jones will be facing bigger problems than just a vote against Haspel when he runs for re-election. Alabama voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in the 2016 election and will likely do so again in 2020. Unless Republicans put up another Moore-like candidate for the Senate, which they likely won’t, it will be hard to for Jones to resist the red tide that will roll across Alabama on Election Day, which will likely be as strong and virtually unbeatable as the Crimson Tide. A vote against Haspel in 2020 will be the least of Jones’s worries.