Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed his concern of CIA director-designate Gina Haspel's involvement in a surveillance campaign of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and her relationship with former director John Brennan in an interview with FOX News' Neil Cavuto on Tuesday.
Paul told Cavuto he doesn't want "people running our intelligence agencies that have an ax to grind or have some sort of partisanship lurking beneath the surface."
Transcript, via FOX News:
SEN. RAND PAUL: Well, you know, I’m concerned that there are reports that John Brennan, the former head of the CIA under President Obama that he was cooperating with British intelligence to spy on the Trump campaign. This is a big deal. Now, some are saying, oh, it was just incidentally collected. It`s still a big deal. And there is a question. There are some accusations it was actually ordered by President Obama`s administration, either through John Brennan or others. Gina Haspel is the acting director of the CIA. She is high enough up in the CIA. I think we should know what she knows about whether the Trump campaign was surveilled upon. We do know that John Brennan, since he has left government, has become an outspoken partisan against the president in very defamatory terms. So, yes, I`m concerned about Gina Haspel being a close acolyte of John Brennan. I also would like to know from her before she is appointed, if she is indeed appointed, I would like to know, what does she know about the surveillance of the Trump campaign and why was the CIA involved? ...
I think that she is a close acolyte of John Brennan. So, I think some have called her a protégé. And I worry that now we have seen John Brennan`s stripes. We have seen that he is a dyed-in-the-wool partisan, a hater of Donald Trump. And so I don`t want people running our intelligence agencies that have an axe to grind or have some sort of partisanship lurking beneath the service. So, there`s many reasons why I oppose her. Number one still is torture, that we shouldn`t torture. We shouldn`t reward somebody who was in charge of a torture program. Number two, we were sending people to be tortured, the CIA was, sending people to be tortured in Assad`s Syria. Now we say Assad is a terrible guy because he gassed his people, in all likelihood. Well, we didn`t -- somebody in the CIA thought he was a great guy because he was so barbarian and would torture people.The problem is, about 20 percent of the people that were tortured were the wrong identity. We got the wrong people. And that just is a mistake and a dark period in our history. And we shouldn`t reward someone like Gina Haspel.
Paul sent a letter to the CIA on Tuesday asking if she was involved in any spying of the Trump presidential campaign.
Earlier today, I sent the @CIA a letter inquiring about Ms. Haspel’s involvement or coordination in possible surveillance of then-candidate @realDonaldTrump. I await a response. pic.twitter.com/BncHW1KJvY— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 15, 2018