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White House campaigns to win Senate confirmation of CIA nominee Gina Haspel

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The Trump administration on Wednesday stepped up efforts to win Senate confirmation of career CIA officer Gina Haspel to become the intelligence agency’s first female director.

In a telephone conference with reporters, White House congressional affairs chief Marc Short acknowledged that Haspel’s Senate confirmation was not a sure bet. “I still expect it will be a close vote,” he said.

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President Donald Trump nominated Haspel to succeed Mike Pompeo, who became secretary of state last month.

Short said that in response to congressional requests that the CIA declassify more documents on Haspel’s career as a CIA undercover officer, including assignments helping supervise the agency’s involvement in interrogation practices that included waterboarding, or simulated drowning, the administration was “looking to declassify” more documents.

 On Wednesday, the White House published a chronology of Haspel’s CIA career, reporting that her first day in the agency’s Counterterrorism Center was Sept. 11, 2001, the day members of al-Qaeda crashed passenger planes into the Pentagon and New York’s World Trade Center.
Some of Haspel’s counter-terrorism work has raised questions about her suitability to lead the agency among critics of her nomination, including prominent Senate Democrats.

Many details of Haspel’s work remain classified. Sources familiar with her career who requested anonymity said that at one point she was the chief of the CIA station in the country where harsh interrogations were used on at least one suspected terrorist.

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Later, she served as chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez, the head of CIA undercover operations. In consultation with Rodriguez, Haspel drafted a cable ordering CIA officers to destroy videotapes of al-Qaeda suspects being tortured.

Haspel’s supporters argue that while she drafted the cable, Rodriguez sent it without the approval of then-CIA director Porter Goss and without informing Haspel that he would do so.

However, in “Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA,” a memoir about his decades as a top CIA lawyer, John Rizzo, said Rodriguez and Haspel were “the staunchest advocates inside the building for destroying the tapes.”

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 “The account in the book is erroneous,” said a CIA spokesman.
The destruction of the tapes, and Haspel’s role in their destruction and the interrogation practices they depicted, is a key issue for Senate critics of Haspel, who have complained that public agency disclosures regarding its interrogation programs have been “inadequate.”

The CIA last month released a 2011 memo showing that the agency’s then-deputy director, Michael Morell, had cleared Haspel of wrongdoing in the destruction of the videotapes.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by John Walcott and Leslie Adler

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Kavanaugh book authors battle The View’s Meghan McCain over New York Times uproar

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The authors of a new book about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared on "The View" to explain some of the controversial aspects of an excerpt published by the New York Times.

Co-host Meghan McCain pressed authors Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, whose book The Education of Brett Kavanaugh was published Tuesday, to explain an editor's note that conservatives have argued invalidates some of their bombshell reporting about sexual misconduct allegations against the justice.

Thank you for the question," Kelly explained. "We're eager to clear the air on this. First of all, there was no desire to withhold important information from our readers. We have all of it in the book and the essay is an adaptation of the book that of course we had to edit for length and clarity."

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BUSTED: Trump-loving sheriff tried to murder deputy who caught him on tape making racist remarks

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A North Carolina Sheriff and Trump supporter reportedly plotted to murder a man who had a tape of him making racially offensive remarks, reports the Raleigh News and Observer.

Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday, based on a recording of Brindell advising a man on how to kill a former deputy who accused him of racist language.

According to court records, the sheriff told another person to “take care of it” and “the only way you gonna stop him is kill him.”

He instructed him to get rid of the weapon. “You ain’t got the weapon, you ain’t got nothing to go on,” Wilkins said. “The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can’t tell nobody, not a thing.” The conversation took place in 2014.

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The pundit class is freaking out about socialism — and they’re utterly clueless about where politics is headed

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On Saturday, Jonah Goldberg, the well-known conservative pundittweeted approvingly an article by Jonathan Chait, the well-known liberal pundit. Chait was writing in a mode critics often call “Democrats in Disarray!” He was worried that Joe Biden might be too old to lead a party too far left to be led anywhere next year.

In the aftermath of the 2016 elections, an exotic political theory promoted by the party’s most left-wing flank suddenly gained wide circulation. The appeal of Bernie Sanders proved Democrats were ready to embrace socialism, or at least something close to it; and Donald Trump’s election proved a nominee with extreme positions could still win. These two conclusions, in combination, suggested the party would move as far left as activists preferred at no political cost (all italics mine).

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