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Haspel at Mike Pompeo's swearing in as Secretary of State. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Gina Haspel, President Trump's nominee to succeed Mike Pompeo as CIA director, wanted to withdraw her name from consideration amid concerns that her role in enhanced interrogation of suspected terrorists would derail with her confirmation, Axios has confirmed, per a source with direct knowledge. The story was first reported by The Washington Post.

The details: During a West Wing meeting with White House officials on Friday, Haspel indicated that she planned to withdraw to avoid "the spectacle of a brutal confirmation hearing," per the Post. That prompted press secretary Sarah Sanders and legislative affairs director Marc Short to head to CIA headquarters to convince her to keep her name in consideration.

  • "Amid the questioning in the West Wing on Friday afternoon, Haspel told White House aides she did not want her nomination to harm the CIA. She also feared unfair attacks on her own reputation, saying that she didn’t want to be 'the next Ronny Jackson,' one official said."
  • "Trump learned of the drama Friday, calling officials from his trip to Dallas. He decided to push for Haspel to remain as the nominee after initially signaling he would support whatever decision was taken, administration officials said."
  • "Short ... told Haspel she could still be confirmed despite the information that had recently come to attention of the White House — and the administration expected some Democrats to support her, officials said."

Go deeper: Meet Gina Haspel ... The CIA's history with "black sites" and "enhanced interrogation."

Get more stories like this by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek. 

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.