Trump Considers Controversial Ex-CIA Chief for Secretary of State

David Petraeus’ mishandling of classified information led to his resignation as CIA chief in 2012.

3 min read
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The focus of President-elect Donald Trump’s search for a new US Secretary of State shifted to David Petraeus, a former US military commander in Iraq, whose mishandling of classified information led to his resignation as CIA chief in 2012.

Trump took to Twitter shortly after an hour-long meeting with the retired general at Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Trump's consideration of Petraeus – who has also been mentioned as a contender for the top job at the Pentagon – adds a new layer of drama to his unusual public deliberations over the top diplomatic job for his administration.

Petraeus, who led international forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was sentenced to two years' probation and fined $1,00,000 last year for the unauthorised removal and retention of classified information.


He admitted sharing classified information with his biographer, with whom he was having an affair. The scandal forced Petraeus to resign from the CIA in 2012.

Petraeus said after meeting Trump, the New York businessman "basically walked us around the world" in their discussion. "He showed a great grasp of the variety of challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well," Petraeus told reporters.

Trump, who takes office on 20 January, plans to hold talks with Mitt Romney on Tuesday in his second recent meeting with the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

A Republican source close to the transition team said it had appeared late last week that Trump was leaning towards choosing Romney as his secretary of state, but that the appearance of Petraeus at Trump Tower suggested that the President-elect was still undecided and casting a wider net for the position.

US Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani are also in the mix for the job of America's top diplomat, Trump aides say.


Petraeus Troubles

Petraeus' past mishandling of classified documents is unlikely to be an obstacle to Trump offering him a top government post, said a source who has advised the transition team on national security.

That is despite Trump harshly criticising Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during the election campaign for using a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Trump often compared the prosecution of Petraeus with the lack of legal action against Clinton, who was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation but never charged with any offence.

Just based on his public statements, I think (Trump) sees Petraeus as a good man who made a mistake, who did a fraction of what other people have done and received a lot more punishment.
A source, who has advised the transition team on national security

Among the Trump transition team, Petraeus and Romney are supported by Republicans looking for a candidate with gravitas who can unify the party, the source said.

Giuliani is favoured by loyalists who worked on the election campaign. Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, has said Romney would cause a backlash among his supporters.

Ideological conservatives hope Trump picks John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations, the source said. Corker is well-regarded, but some in the Trump camp do not want too many senators coming into the Cabinet, the source said.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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