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White House defends CIA nominee, calls for 'fair hearing'

The White House says acting CIA director Gina Haspel wanted to "protect the agency" when she offered to withdraw her nomination to permanently lead the CIA. But Sarah Sanders says Haspel is "100 percent committed" to the confirmation process.

Haspel, an agency veteran with numerous undercover postings, has faced bipartisan concerns over her involvement with interrogation tactics — including actions such as waterboarding that have since been banned — against detained suspected terrorists during the George W. Bush administration.

On Friday, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking internal CIA records on the agency’s push to get Haspel confirmed.

And The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that Haspel nearly withdrew her nomination after questions from White House officials about her role in the interrogation program, but she was persuaded over the weekend to stick with the process.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment Sunday about whether Haspel considered withdrawing.

Senators were expected to begin receiving classified material covering the scope of her career. Meantime, White House officials said they were putting pressure on Senate Democrats up for reelection in swing states, including calling in to local radio shows.

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