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Collins says a now declassified report clears concerns about Haspel's role in the destruction of videotapes of prisoner interrogations that some consider torture. John McCain has criticized Haspel over torture and is absent from the Senate, where Republicans hold just a 51-49 majority.

According to Salon writer Matthew Rozsa, Haspel's confirmation hearing this week isn't so much about Haspel's qualifications to oversee the agency, but rather a "referendum on torture".

Then the president switched gears to announce that he would call President Xi of China to discuss trade and denuclearization in the Korean peninsula. He added that "in these very risky times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror".

"At the same time she wants to do everything she can to protect the safety and security of Americans, which is why she is 100% committed to going through this confirmation process and being confirmed as the next leader of the Central Intelligence Agency".

'[In] my meetings with Gina, she was 100 per cent committed to being the best nominee we could find, ' Short said. The only thing you can say about her is that she was willing personally to oversee the brutality which many in the Bush administration were telling us was necessary to beat the terrorists - and that she drafted orders to destroy evidence of techniques used.

In a bid to boost her standing ahead of the Senate confirmation hearings, Trump sent out a tweet that celebrated rather than downplayed Haspel's role in the "enhanced interrogation" programme that included waterboarding - the simulated drowning of detainees. Rand Paul of Kentucky are expected to vote for Haspel, but she would need at least one Democrat to be confirmed. "Any Democrat who claims to support women's empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite".

But Haspel's opponents, including human rights groups and some former military and intelligence officials, say the Central Intelligence Agency hasn't fully disclosed her role in "enhanced interrogation" programs after the September 11 attacks. Senators had demanded greater transparency from the CIA over her history and on Monday the agency delivered a cardboard box full of classified documents.

Al Jazeera's Heidi Zhou-Castro reports from Washington. Trump was reportedly told about Haspel on Friday, and he made a decision to push her to stay as the nominee. She told reporters the sessions had been "great".

Haspel, now serving as the CIA's acting director, offered to withdraw her nomination last week amid concerns that a debate over a harsh interrogation program would tarnish her reputation and put her out of the running, according to NBC News and The Washington Post.

Trump has vented that his team isn't doing enough to prevent the kind of headwinds that Haspel and other Cabinet picks have faced in the Senate, according to one White House official.