Did the CIA Spy on Trump? Senator Asks Gina Haspel Before Confirmation Vote

A top GOP senator asked CIA director nominee Gina Haspel if she was at all involved in any possible surveillance of President Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election after Haspel’s latest confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Kentucky’s Rand Paul penned a letter to Haspel and specifically inquired what “circumstances” would give the CIA cause to monitor the “communications and movements of U.S. presidential candidates,” according to the letter published Tuesday by Politico. Paul also asked if she, or anyone else at the CIA, was aware of any such surveillance of Trump during the campaign.

Furthermore, Paul asked Haspel in his letter if the CIA or any other U.S. government agency had monitored Trump during his trip to Great Britain in November 2016. Normally, the CIA does not conduct surveillance of American citizens, but a presidential order signed in the 1980s granted the agency power to do so if the CIA director and attorney general sign off, according to Reuters. The agency also updated and released its procedures in January 2017, just two days before Trump was sworn into office.

During an interview with Fox News, Paul justified the letter and questions by citing Haspel’s previous positions within the intelligence agency.

"She's high enough up in the CIA. I think we should know what she knows about whether the Trump campaign was surveilled upon," Paul said. "Before she’s 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?”

Paul has been an outspoken opponent to Haspel’s nomination, citing her involvement in a CIA “black site,” or secret prison, where suspected militants were detained and tortured around the globe in the years following the 9/11 attacks. In an op-ed, Paul cited the destruction of tapes that showed how the interrogations were conducted.

“We’re not simply talking about a run-of-the-mill CIA agent here,” Paul wrote in March. “Haspel was someone in a position of power who presided over practices that epitomized the abuse of that power. Allowing her to now run the CIA will only invite even more distrust and suspicion of what is going on behind the scenes at the agency.”

Paul’s inquiry slightly echoes President Donald Trump’s unproven accusation that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had “my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory,” the president tweeted in March of last year.

Despite Paul’s questions, Haspel is expected to receive enough votes Wednesday to become the first woman to head the CIA.