Affair, racy emails may jeopardize Obama's Iraq ambassador pick
June 14th, 2012
04:58 PM ET
11 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. Jason

    Maybe he could try for the Secret Service instead.

    June 15, 2012 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  2. Joel Holtzman

    Two people that hit it off in a remote, stressful, intense situation found a way to cope and happened to fall in love and got married. That's not good enough for the GOP I guess. There has been nothing remotely suggested that there actions compromised their responsibilities. Talk about gottcha' politics. Hypocritical sob's. None of this stuff means anything in the effort to find and create economic stability in America. The GOP in idealess. The GOP will talk about anything but helping to solve this nations problems.

    June 15, 2012 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  3. Marie MD

    The teapublikkkans wouldn't vote for him regardsless of what he has done or not done. Anything that the President wants, mostly help the country, they are against.
    Of course, a vote using the excuse of an affair from the party of bathroom trolling and having your parents give your mistress' husband money and a job among other picadillos from the moral majority (which is neither) is a joke in itself.

    June 15, 2012 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
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