Trump’s CIA pick offered to bow out

WASHINGTON — Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, offered to withdraw her nomination, two senior administration officials said Sunday, amid concerns that a debate over a harsh interrogation program would tarnish her reputation and that of the CIA.

White House aides on Friday sought out additional details about Haspel’s involvement in the CIA’s now-defunct program of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11 as they prepared her for Wednesday’s confirmation hearing. This is when she offered to withdraw, the officials said.

They said Haspel, who is the acting director of the CIA, was reassured that her nomination was still on track and will not withdraw. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The news was first reported Sunday by The Washington Post.

Haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the CIA, is the first career operations officer to be nominated to lead the agency in decades. She served almost entirely undercover and much of her record is classified. Democrats say she should be disqualified because she was the chief of base at a covert detention site in Thailand where two terrorism suspects were subjected to waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.

Haspel has told lawmakers in recent weeks that she would stand firm against any effort to restart the brutal detention and interrogation program, administration officials told The Associated Press on Friday. She is expected to reiterate that publicly this week.