Of president-elect Donald Trump's contenders for secretary of state, Mitt Romney is certainly the most well-known, particularly for his presidential bid in 2012. But it seems a lesser-known candidate is giving Romney a run for his money for the position: former CIA Director David Petraeus. So who is David Petraeus, and why are some people against him becoming secretary of state?
The secretary of state serves as the president's main foreign affairs adviser. So it's important that the candidates for the role have experience abroad, which certainly qualifies Petraeus. Petraeus has had a dignified military career ever since graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1974, according to CNN. He's served many roles, including as a brigadier general in Kuwait during the Gulf War in 1998, as general of the U.S. Joint Interagency Counter-Terrorism Task Force in 2001, and as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Among his accomplishments, he helped write the military’s field manual on counterinsurgency, and was credited for improving American military operations in Iraq, according to the Washington Post. Petraeus was appointed the director of the CIA by President Obama by 2011, after retiring from the Army, but he didn't hold that role for very long.
Under his command, the CIA came under fire for not understanding its role in securing the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which was the target of a terrorist attack.
But Petraeus didn't come under fire specifically until a different scandal: in 2012, Petraeus had an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, who was writing a biography on him. Petraeus admitted to having the affair, writing to a friend of his that he "screwed up royally." Romper could not reach Petraeus for comment.
He gave Broadwell access to classified information, which he initially denied. That same year, Petraeus stepped down from his position. After an FBI investigation, Petraeus pleaded guilty to mishandling classified material, which is a misdemeanor, and made a plea deal to pay a $100,000 fine and a two-year probation, The Washington Post reported.
Since 2013, Petraeus has been chairman of the KKR Global Institute, which aids the KKR private-equity firm evaluate investing in different markets around the world.
In a speech honoring veterans at the University of Southern California, Petraeus apologized for his actions while he was in the CIA:
Needless to say, I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago...So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret — and apologize for — the circumstances that led me to resign from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters.
After Trump rallied to lock Hillary Clinton up for sending classified information on a private email server this entire election season, some are criticizing Petraeus as a potential pick for secretary of state because of his previous mishandling of classified information.
Petraeus spoke favorably of Trump in an interview with Deutsche Welle:
Perhaps he can do something in Washington that the political insiders, who he rightly criticizes, have been unable to do, which is to come together to give a little, to gain a lot for our country.
Petraeus has denied political aspirations in the past, but recently said he will be willing to serve as secretary of state to president-elect Trump. He has also offered his opinions on what foreign affairs the president-elect needs to prioritize.
Americans usually love a good comeback story, and Trump's consideration of Petraeus for such a prominent role could mark his return to the top. But before that happens, he will likely have to assure the American people that he wouldn't be a threat to security since his job will entail handling classified information on a daily basis.