Sen. Rand Paul remains staunchly opposed to the nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA director, despite the retraction of a prominent anecdote that Paul referenced when announcing he will do everything he can to block her confirmation.
On Thursday, ProPublica retracted reporting that Haspel oversaw a base in Thailand while suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah was subject to enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that many senators believe to be torture, as well as mocking the prisoner's treatment. Paul referenced the story in his press conference on Wednesday and said Haspel has been "gleeful" in her defense of torture techniques.
But one of Paul's top aides said on Friday that the Kentucky Republican will still oppose Haspel, a move that could tank her nomination in the closely divided Senate.
"Senator Rand Paul was quoting a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter. Regardless of the retraction of one anecdote, the fact remains that Gina Haspel was instrumental in running a place where people were tortured. According to multiple published, undisputed accounts, she oversaw a black site and she further destroyed evidence of torture. This should preclude her from ever running the CIA," said Doug Stafford, Paul's chief strategist.
ProPublica said this week that their 2017 story on Haspel was accurate in describing Haspel's push to destroy tapes of Zubaydah's waterboarding.
With Paul in opposition to Haspel and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) receiving treatment for brain cancer, Republicans now need some Democratic support to confirm Haspel. No Democrats have yet voiced such support, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that both Haspel and secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo may not be confirmed.