Confirming media rumors that in addition to the ongoing battle between Romney and Giulianni for the position of Secretary of State, which had led to media fallout implicating Trump media aide Kellyanne Conway who allegedly “went rogue” by bashing Romney on Twitter and on the TV circuit over the weekend, Bloomberg reports that Trump is set to meet with General David Petraeus, whom he is now considering for the position of secretary of state.
As a reminder, the four-star general left government under a cloud for sharing classified documents during an extramarital affair. He is set to meet Trump “amid infighting among Trump’s advisers about who to pick for the post” in what may be yet another media distraction as the public response against Petraeus may be just as powerful as that against Romney. As a reminder, Kellyanne Conwaysaid Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she is “just astonished at the breathtaking volume and intensity of blow-back that I see” toward the possibility of Romney serving as the nation’s top diplomat.
As Bloomberg notes, if Petraeus wins Senate confirmation, it will represent one of Trump’s boldest appointments and a remarkable comeback for the 64-year-old general who won acclaim overseeing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq before serving as director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama. The Senate had voted 94-0 to confirm him for that post. However, shortly after Petraeus’s government career collapsed after revelations that he had an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and shared classified documents with her.
He resigned from the CIA in November 2012 and avoided a criminal trial by agreeing to a plea deal in April 2015. It required him to serve two years on probation and pay a $100,000 fine on a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized possession of classified information.
To be sure, Trump has tried to mitigate Petraeus’ colorful past, saying during the presidential campaign that Petraeus’s violations paled compared to those of his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who shared classified information on a private e-mail server.
“Other lives, including General Petraeus and many others, have been destroyed for doing far, far less,” Trump said at a rally in October. “This is a conspiracy against you, the American people, and we cannot let this happen or continue.”
Before the scandal, Petraeus was lauded as one of the most brilliant generals of his generation and the go-to choice of presidents George W. Bush and Obama. Bush tapped him in 2007 to lead the surge of 21,000 U.S. troops into Iraq to rescue the crumbling U.S. war effort there. He revamped U.S. strategy in Iraq to emphasize using counterinsurgency tactics and flooding Iraq urban centers with troops to protect them. The new strategy was credited with reducing violence in the country and sparing the U.S. a humiliating defeat. Still, it is unclear how such an appointment would resonate with Trump’s core support base.
Since departing the public sector, Petraeus has been teaching and working as chairman of the KKR Global Institute, which analyzes global trends for KKR & Co., the New York-based investment firm. Obama’s administration continued to seek his occasional advice on strategy in Iraq. White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted his record of service in justifying the decision to still rely on his counsel despite the scandal.
Last week, in an interview with the BBC, Petraeus had said he would serve in the Trump administration if asked by the president-elect. “I’ve been in a position before where a president has turned to me in the Oval Office in a difficult moment, without any pleasantries, and said ‘I’m asking you as your president and Commander in Chief to take command of the international security force in Afghanistan,”’ Petraeus said. “The only response can be: ‘Yes, Mr President.”’
Despite Trump’s praise of Petraeus on the campaign trail, the two have not always aligned on policy issues. Petraeus disagreed gently with Trump on one issue during the campaign, rejecting the candidate’s criticism of the Pentagon for announcing in advance that it was readying the long-promised campaign to retake Mosul from Islamic State terrorists. That said, the former general had also clashed with Obama before the president took office. During a 2008 campaign visit to Iraq, the then-senator and Petraeus had a heated debate over troop levels in the country, according to a book by Obama’s campaign manager, David Plouffe.
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