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Paul Changed His Mind On Pompeo. He Says Haspel Is Different.

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Josh James
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WUKY
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) drops by DV8 Kitchen, a social enterprise restauarant in Lexington employing recovering addicts and ex-felons, on May 4, 2018.

Sen. Rand Paul signaled Friday he’s not budging in his opposition to President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel.

Haspel’s nomination has reopened a highly-charged debate on torture and detention policies that erupted in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the invasion of Iraq, with the New York Times reporting on the nominee's role in a torture program and oversight of a secret prison in Thailand.

In April, Paul backed down from earlier pledges not to confirm current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing productive conversations on foreign policy with the president and the former CIA director. Asked whether similar meetings could again sway him with regard to Haspel, the senator offered a definitive no.

"We want to be the shining example for the world," Paul answered. "Torture is not who we are."

Casting an aye vote for Haspel's confirmation would reinforce the idea that "torture is not that bad," the senator said.

Pressed on why assurances from an often mercurial commander-in-chief were sufficient to sooth his concerns about Pompeo's appetite for military interventions in the Middle East, Paul defended Trump's "good instincts" on Iraq and the need to refocus the nation's energies on the domestic front.

"I can't predict what other people are going to do, but the president has consistently, for probably for 15 years, said the Iraq War was a mistake, so I think he really believes that," Paul replied. "And I think he's said for years that we need to pay attention things and problems we have here at home."

PolitiFact found that Trump briefly expressed support for the invasion during a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, but did not discuss the invasion extensively in the lead-up to the war. He has since been increasingly critical on the conflict.

The former presidential candidate was in town for his son's graduation and a visit to Lexington’s DV8 Kitchen, where he met with the restaurant’s owners about their efforts to hire recovering addicts and ex-felons. A vocal advocate for expungement and voting rights restoration, Paul said finding a job is often a stubborn barrier to full recovery.

"If we don't employ people, what is the message we send to them? Go back and do what you were doing," he told reporters. "I think the only way to get out of a rut in your life is really to get back into employment."

Eighteen of the DV8’s twenty-three employees are in active addiction recovery. The workers, the business, and local counseling services like Chrysalis House and The Hope Center sign agreements that require weekly testing to make sure the employees are staying clean.

DV8’s Rob Perez, who also owns Saul Good, tells WUKY the project is personal.

"I went through recovery at 25. We've lost 13 people at our other three restaurants here in town and we saw what it does to our city, our state, and our country," he says. "We wanted to try to provide some sort of solution in a small way."

The social enterprise restaurant’s financing came from 25 individual $10,000 low-interest loans.

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