May 9, 2018

Gina Haspel says she'll refuse "immoral" orders from Trump

Gina Haspel is sworn in during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's CIA nominee Gina Haspel, whose highly anticipated confirmation hearing began Wednesday, said that, if confirmed, she will not follow any orders from her superiors that she believes to be immoral, "even if it was technically legal."

Why it matters: This is a primary concern for the Senate Intelligence Committee, given Haspel's record on the agency's prior use of torture . Haspel told the senators: “I support the higher moral standard... I would never, ever, take CIA back to the interrogation program.”

  • Regarding her involvement in the destruction of interrogation tapes: "There was a great deal of concern about the security risks to CIA officers who were depicted on the tapes... Our lawyers were very consistent in saying to us that there was no legal requirement to retain the tapes, [and] no legal impediment to disposing of the tapes."
  • On the interrogation program, Haspel said that she was told interrogation experts designed it, and it was approved by the attorney general and the president.
  • On the issue of waterboarding: Haspel said she doesn't believe Trump would ask her to subject a detainee to that. Remember: Trump said on the campaign trail he would bring back waterboarding.
  • She repeatedly declined to give Sen. Kamala Harris a "yes" or "no" answer on whether she believes the CIA's techniques were immoral.

Go deeper

The latest: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: New York Attorney General Letitia James responded to Trump's comments by tweeting that he "is not a dictator & he doesn’t have the right to unilaterally deploy U.S. military across American states. We will guard the right to peaceful protest & will not hesitate to go to court to protect our constitutional rights during this time & well into the future."

2 hours ago - World

The world watches America burn

Newspaper front pages via the Newseum

The world is watching the grief and anger, violence and pain in America's streets.

The big picture: The U.S. accounts for nearly one-third of the world's deaths from COVID-19. The killing of a black man, George Floyd, by police has sparked days of protest and nights of chaos in America's major cities.

Trump walks to historic St. John's Church outside White House as protests rage

President Trump walked to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, located just steps away from the White House across Lafayette Park, on Monday night as protests linked to the murder of George Floyd raged across the capital and cities around the country.

What we're seeing: Military police and park rangers used physical force and tear gas on peaceful protestors to clear the area so that Trump could "pay respects" to the church that was damaged by a fire on Sunday.