Petraeus taking 'wait and see' approach on joining the Trump administration

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Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, at a Senate hearing in 2015. Stars and Stripes
Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, at a Senate hearing in 2015. Stars and Stripes

Petraeus taking 'wait and see' approach on joining the Trump administration

by: Dan Lamothe | .
The Washington Post | .
published: November 18, 2016

Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus said after Donald Trump won the presidential election that he was not necessarily opposed to serving in the new administration, according to one U.S. military official who speaks with him often.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity Thursday, said that he asked Petraeus if he'd be interested in serving as national security adviser, defense secretary or secretary of state. Petraeus responded that he would "wait and see" how the situation developed. The general is one of the most influential military officers of his generation, but ended his government career as director of the Central Intelligence Agency in November 2012 amid revelations that he had an affair with his biographer.

Petraeus pleaded guilty in April 2015 to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information in connection with the scandal — namely sharing information with biographer Paula Broadwell — and was sentenced to probation and paying a $100,000 fine. Since resigning, he has worked as a college professor at a few schools and in international development with the firm KKR.

The Guardian, citing diplomatic sources, reported Thursday that Petraeus was a contender for secretary of state, while naming Sen. Jeff Sessions, R.-Ala., as the frontrunner for the job. Sessions, an early Trump supporter, also is seen as a potential secretary of defense or attorney general.

Petraeus could face a tough confirmation process if nominated to serve as secretary of state or defense considering his recent criminal history, but has testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee as a foreign policy expert since pleading guilty.

"Four years ago, I made a serious mistake, one that brought discredit on me and pain . . . to those closest to me," Petraeus testified in September 2015. "It was a violation of the trust placed in me and a breach of the values to which I'd been committed throughout my life."

No Senate confirmation process is required to become national security adviser at the White House, but retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is seen as the frontrunner for that job. The office of Sen. Jack Reed, D.-R.I., released a statement "regarding the announcement" that Flynn had been selected for national security adviser, before issuing an apology and saying that they issued the statement in response to "non-official information."

If selected for secretary of defense, Petraeus would require a congressional waiver because he has not been out of uniform at least seven years. He retired from the Army in 2011.