Gina Haspel, the nominee to become CIA director, during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on May 9. (Alex Brandon/AP)
Opinion writer

She edges closer to a full condemnation. “Gina Haspel portrayed the CIA’s post-Sept. 11, 2001, interrogation program and its harsh treatment of detainees as a mistake in a letter to the Senate intelligence panel’s top Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, whose support she is courting ahead of a committee vote set for Wednesday. Haspel’s Monday letter to Warner amounts to a significant criticism of the George W. Bush-era CIA’s use of tactics subsequently deemed torture, and it goes beyond what she said about the program during her public confirmation hearing last week.” Poor strategy in thinking she could get away with evasive live testimony.

Forced to sidle up to an outright apology, she seems to have satisfied enough Democrats to get confirmed. “Gina Haspel appears to have secured enough votes to be confirmed as the country’s next CIA director after stating in a letter to a top Democrat that the agency never should have detained terrorist suspects and employed brutal interrogation techniques against them. Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said Tuesday that he had asked Haspel to write down her views because he believed that in one-on-one meetings she had expressed greater regret, and more resolute moral opposition to the agency’s interrogation program than she had communicated during her confirmation hearing last week.”

Meghan McCain closes in on the source of the problem. “It’s always a sign of a bad campaign or a bad candidate or a bad politician when you have rampant leaking problems, because it shows that you don’t have loyalty to the principal or the message. You have to look in your own house on that one.”

President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement borders on unintelligible. “The Iran deal was, in truth, a very bad one. It did nothing to inhibit Iranian behavior in the broader Middle East, did nothing to stop its ballistic programs, and opened the path for a resumption of the nuclear-weapons program in a decade or so. Some of us said so at the time. Walking away from it, however, will make matters worse not only because success is unlikely, but because this shredding of an earlier presidential agreement further undermines the qualities that those who look to American leadership have come to value — predictability, steadiness, and continuity.” Read the whole thing.

It verges on the absurd. “[Sean] Hannity is not an outside observer who likes what he sees in the Trump White House and shares that perspective. He is a participant in this presidency, one who still hasn’t ever fully disclosed how he affects and is affected by the actions Trump takes.” No legitimate news organization would allow this.

Republicans allow Trump to skirt, if not trample on, the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. “A subsidiary of Chinese state-owned construction firm Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) signed a deal with Indonesia’s MNC Land to build a theme park outside Jakarta as part of the ambitious project, the company said on Thursday. The deal is the latest to raise questions about the extent of Trump’s financial exposure to Beijing. . . . The project includes Trump-branded hotels, residences and a golf course, as well as other hotel, shopping and residential developments.” This is the stuff of third-world countries.

The White House approaches a cult. “A culture of fealty compounds itself; conformists thrive, and dissenters depart or refuse to join. By May, the President was surrounded by advisers in name only, who competed to be the most explicitly quiescent. . . . Midway through its second year, Trump’s White House is at war within and without, racing to banish the ‘disloyals’ and to beat back threatening information. Bit by bit, the White House is becoming Trump’s Emerald City: isolated, fortified against nonbelievers, entranced by its mythmaker, and constantly vulnerable to the risks of revelation.”