Trump CIA nominee sought to withdraw over interrogation role

Gina Haspel summoned to White House to discuss her history in the programme that including waterboarding

epa06707164 CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel attends the ceremonial swearing in ceremony for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington, DC, USA, 02 May 2018. Secretary Pompeo succeeds Rex Tillerson as the 70th US Secretary of State.  EPA/SHAWN THEW

US President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, sought to withdraw over concerns about her role in the agency's interrogation programme, The Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing four unidentified senior US officials.

Mrs Haspel was summoned to the White House on Friday for a meeting to discuss her history in the interrogation programme that employed techniques, including waterboarding, widely condemned as torture, it reported.

She told the White House she would step aside to avoid a brutal Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Wednesday that might damage the Central Intelligence Agency, the officials told the Post. She then returned to agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

White House aides including legislative affairs liaison Marc Short and spokeswoman Sarah Sanders then rushed to Langley for discussions on Friday that lasted several hours but did not secure a commitment from her to stick with the nomination, the paper said.

Only on Saturday afternoon was the White House assured she would not withdraw, the Post quoted the officials as saying.

Mr Trump named Mrs Haspel, the first woman tapped to head the agency, to succeed Mike Pompeo, who became secretary of state last month.

Her nomination has encountered opposition over her role in a now-defunct programme in which the agency detained and interrogated Al Qaeda suspects in secret prisons overseas using techniques widely condemned as torture.

Former president George W Bush authorised the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Programme after the September 11 attacks in 2001.