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Trump defends CIA pick as 'tough on terror'

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency (all times local):

7:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump is defending Gina Haspel, his nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, who has come under fire because of her involvement in detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11.

Trump says Democrats want to defeat Haspel's nomination because she is "too tough on terror."

Trump calls Haspel "highly respected," and says she has come under fire "because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!"

Haspel's confirmation hearing is set for Wednesday. She would be the first woman to lead the CIA and is the first career operations officer to be nominated to lead the agency in decades.

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12:47 a.m.

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, offered to withdraw her nomination amid concerns that a debate over a harsh interrogation program would tarnish her reputation and that of the CIA. That's according to two senior administration officials.

White House aides on Friday sought out additional details about Haspel's involvement in the CIA's now-defunct program of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11 as they prepared her for Wednesday's confirmation hearing. This is when she offered to withdraw.

They said Haspel, who is the acting director of the CIA, was reassured that her nomination was still on track and she will not withdraw.

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