Affair, racy emails may jeopardize Obama's Iraq ambassador pick
June 14th, 2012
04:58 PM ET
2 years ago

Affair, racy emails may jeopardize Obama's Iraq ambassador pick

Washington (CNN) - The nomination of the president's pick to be ambassador to Iraq appeared to be in jeopardy Thursday as Senate Democrats raised concerns about recent revelations of questionable conduct.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said he is "evaluating" controversies surrounding Brett McGurk and may postpone a scheduled committee vote on the nomination next Tuesday.

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"I need to talk to senators and evaluate where we are," Sen. John Kerry told CNN. "People have become aware of things they weren't, so we have to evaluate."

If the vote is delayed, it could be a serious setback for McGurk, who has served in both the Obama and Bush administrations. His personal conduct has come under intense scrutiny since flirtatious emails exchanged with Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon were made public. The emails revealed that the two carried on an affair while they were stationed in Baghdad in 2008. Chon recently resigned her position at the newspaper in the wake of the controversy.

One senior Republican involved in national security issues said McGurk showed a serious lack of judgment by sending the emails.

"The reports are very serious," said Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee. "They should be explored before we take action."

Cardin said it would be "difficult to proceed with this nomination" until there is "further clarification" of what happened.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, who is also on the committee, praised McGurk for his "substantial" experience in Iraq but cautioned "there have been a lot of questions raised and we should weigh them."

'We've got more work to do," Casey said.

Six Republican members of the committee sent President Barack Obama a letter Wednesday urging him to pull the nomination. They cited what they called McGurk's lack of management experience and complained he "botched" the Status of Forces agreement for post war Iraq in negotiations with Iraqi leaders last year. The senators also said the "release of the information detailing unprofessional conduct demonstrates poor judgment and will affect the nominee's credibility" in Iraq.

Democrats hold a 10-9 majority on the Foreign Relations Committee. It would take only one Democratic vote against McGurk for his nomination to fail in the committee. A Democratic leadership aide said the full Senate would be unlikely to vote on the nomination if it didn't pass out of committee.

A top Democratic Senate leadership aide wouldn't predict if McGurk's nomination would survive the controversy. The aide said "it's too soon to say" if the nomination will be approved, and noted that "it is at a tipping point but it hasn't tipped yet."

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Filed under: Congress • Iraq • President Obama • Senate
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. rs

    Not that any of that really matters, the GOP will filibuster the nomination on the grounds that it might actually allow something to be accomplished. An affair? Racy e-mails? No one in the morally challenged GOP does that!

    June 14, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. Myviewis

    Just find somebody else.

    June 14, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    We all know McGurk was married during this affair, divorced his wife and married his mistress and we don't need anymore details and drama about his affair, just pick someone else.

    June 14, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  4. New Age Independent

    Seriously? Does Obama have any of these bozos vetted? Since choosing Biden, you'd think he would have learned a lesson.

    June 14, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. J.V.Hodgson

    My god if you use racy E-mails to someone he is now married to I believe its nonsense. This is typical Republican No slow down the current administrations ability to govern effectively when a nation state Iraq, created largely under a Bush administration eventually decides it does not want American troops in its country any more you either respect the nation state created or go to war again because a SOFA Bush signed cannot be renewed re protection of US forces from local law = Obama with drew forces which we couldnt afford to keep there any way. this republican letter is yet another NO disgraceful farce!!
    Eveything Republicans do at the moment if you had not noticed is dicatatorial and our way or the High way thats no way to run a democracy. PS Hi Grover what you did is treasonous as it usurps the power of elected officials.
    Regards,
    Hodgson

    June 14, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  6. kuewa

    They should appoint Bush or Cheney, or both. They created the sorry situation in Iraq. Condo Rice could serve as their assistant.

    June 14, 2012 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Ashley from Ohio

    This guy will likely become a Republican...

    June 14, 2012 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. GonzoinHouston

    No. Not for Iraq. Some place in Europe where they don't sweat these things, maybe. But not Iraq. And especially not with this bloodthirsty GOP Senate bloc.

    June 14, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  9. jimzcarz

    This is happening far too often.. If you're not Man or Woman enough to keep up with the commitment to your spouse, Stay out of politics.Because we sure as he// ain't gonna trust you if your spouse don't

    June 14, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  10. Alex in Wisconsin

    Cynics aside, i think most Americans can take a second to appreciate the Senate actually doing their job in terms of nominations... for now.

    June 14, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. eroteme

    McGurk should only have to say, "I accept full responsibiliy for my conduct." This has worked very well for others in the public eye, after this catchy little phrase all is forgiven, and forgotten. Sometimes this nice statement receives complimens.

    June 14, 2012 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. Getoverit

    When they ask him about it, maybe he'll just tell them to pound salt like Holder has been doing.

    June 14, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  13. Larry L

    Newt Gingrich was a serious contender for POTUS...

    June 14, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  14. Toby McDugan

    What's the deal with this administration?

    June 14, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. Mary

    When there are lots of potential candidates, why pick someone with questionable background? Better to be safe than sorry.

    June 14, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  16. jim herr

    impressive were democrats to insist on moral behavior

    June 14, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  17. Greenspam

    Let's publish the emails. May be he was just citing "50 shades of grey" in his emails.

    June 14, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Really? Is this all about one e-mail? I hope that this is more than just that.

    June 14, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  19. AnaHadWolves

    Wow. It's like there's an Islamic fundamentalist group in charge...more like the "Morals Police" instead of elected officials. Who cares if he sent "racy e-mails" to another consenting adult?The rest of the civilized world laughs at us and mocks us for inanity like this.

    Good Lord...just vote on the man...up or down...and dispense with the blather about what he does or did on his own that was perfectly legal. This country acts like 4th graders sometimes.

    June 14, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Really congress? You really can't find anything more important to screw up?

    June 14, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  21. Jason

    They've been married though. What's the big deal?

    June 14, 2012 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Lori in CO

    Maybe when a man learns to keep his pants zipped, we won't see these kinds of stories...doesn't matter whether they are republican or democrat!!!

    June 14, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  23. umwhynot

    The problem is that the context of the emails raise concerns he might have shared priviledged information with a reporter he was sleeping with. If true, this isn't the guy with the integrity to serve as the US Ambassador to anywhere.

    June 15, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  24. Thomas

    Who cares !

    Who dose the GOP want Lawrence Welk or maybe Pat Boone ?

    June 15, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  25. sjlucas

    Isn't it ironic that Members of Congress are passing judgement on anybody based upon activities in their personal lives. If Members of Congress held themselves to the same standard, few of them would be able to survive the scrutiny. Hypocrisy at its best.

    June 15, 2012 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
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