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Rand Paul Announces He’ll Oppose Trump’s State Dept. & CIA Nominees

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Washington, D.C.— Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced on Wednesday that he would oppose President Trump’s nominees to head the State Department and CIA, potentially impeding their path to Senate confirmation.

“I will oppose both Pompeo’s nomination and Haspel’s nomination,” Paul said.

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Trump announced the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, and nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo, an aggressive foreign policy hawk, to serve as his new Secretary of State – while nominating Gina Haspel, the CIA’s deputy director, to serve as the new head of the CIA after Pompeo moves to the State Department.

Paul said he was “perplexed” how Trump could nominate Pompeo given his support for regime change in Iraq as well as support and advocacy for regime change in Iran. The libertarian leaning Republican senator said Pompeo’s support of regime change contradicts the skepticism Trump expressed on the campaign trail toward foreign interventions and regime change.

“It perplexes me that he is now nominating someone for secretary of State who has advocated and pushed for regime change in Iran,” Paul said.

Haspel, who oversaw the U.S. torture program at a secret CIA prison and later destroyed the recorded evidence, is a lighting rod for controversy given her intimate participation in the torture of individuals suspected by the US of being connected to terrorism. Paul noted his opposition for Haspel’s nomination due to her role in the Bush-era CIA torture program at black site prisons.

“My opposition to her is over her direct participation in interrogation and her gleeful enjoyment of someone being tortured,” said Paul.

“I find it just amazing that anyone would consider having this woman as the head of the CIA,” Paul said. “Certainly, there is a career officer at the CIA who did not directly participate in waterboarding that we can nominate,” he continued. “Rewarding someone who was in charge of something so heinous is a really big mistake.”

CBS News reports that Paul’s opposition to Haspel’s nomination could put her potential confirmation as head of the CIA in jeopardy if all 49 Democratic Senators voted against Haspel – with only one other Republican, aside from Paul, needing to vote no to block her nomination. Paul did not rule out a filibuster to prevent Pompeo from being confirmed.

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