On Twitter Tuesday, Trump reiterated his protection of Haspel as robust on terror.
Officials told the Post that Haspel's statement came during a White House meeting about her involvement in the CIA's interrogation program. John McCain has criticized Haspel over torture and is absent from the Senate, where Republicans hold just a 51-49 majority.
"She has served in some really tough places, high-risk hardship posts, and has performed some extraordinary operations", said former CIA official Henry "Hank" Crumpton, who was Haspel's boss in the agency's National Resources Division. The hope, too, is that the president's comments will motivate Republicans to back her up at Wednesday's hearing and the likely subsequent vote by the full Senate.
Then the president switched gears to announce that he would call President Xi of China to discuss trade and denuclearization in the Korean peninsula.
Trump nominated Haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the intelligence agency, to succeed Mike Pompeo, who has become secretary of state. Think of that, in these very unsafe times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Rand Paul of Kentucky has already vowed not to vote for her because of her role in the torture program. The source did not say what the documents contain because they're classified. CIA veterans would also see her confirmation as a sign that the agency had been officially absolved of its misdeeds in the war on terror.
Haspel is well-regarded within the Central Intelligence Agency.
U.S. seeks balanced trade with China, Trump tells Xi
Pompeo made a secret visit to Kim last month, before the then-CIA director had been confirmed as secretary of state. At the airport in Dalian also noticed the planes, which are believed to be used by senior Chinese officials.
In an April 24 letter to Feinstein and other senators, Jaime Cheshire, the CIA's director of congressional affairs, said the agency is committed to providing a "complete picture" of Haspel's 33-year CIA career, including her time working in its counterterrorism center. Her confirmation hearing comes weeks after six Democrats voted in favor of Pompeo leading the State Department, despite his support for torture and penchant for warmongering.
Yet there is something naïve about the Democrats' opposition to Haspel.
Al Jazeera's Heidi Zhou-Castro reports from Washington.
"She's truly a spymaster", said one retired senior intelligence official who knows Haspel well.
Haspel, who considered withdrawing over her role in the controversial interrgation program, faces a tough Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, and her nomination remains uncertain. "She is a total professional", an intelligence analyst told The Straits Times.
"The decision to destroy the tapes by Rodriguez and the creation of that cable by Gina Haspel and her advocacy of the destruction of the tapes" led to the eventual 7,000-page report, Jones said on a call with reporters last week. But senators on both sides of the aisle have voiced concern over her nomination to lead the agency because of her past ties to a brutal interrogation program used terror suspects following the September 11 attacks.