Former CIA director David Petraeus emerging as new contender for US secretary of state

President-elect Donald Trump steps up his search for a new US secretary of state, with the focus on former CIA head, General David Petraeus.
David Petraeus speaks to members of the media while leaving Trump Tower in New York, on Nov 28, 2016.
David Petraeus speaks to members of the media while leaving Trump Tower in New York, on Nov 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - US President-elect Donald Trump met on Monday (Nov 29) with David H. Petraeus, the highly decorated but scandal-scarred former military commander, who has emerged as a new contender for secretary of state after days of bitter internal feuding over who will get the coveted post.

Petraeus, a retired general and former CIA director, spent an hour with Trump at his offices in Trump Tower in Manhattan and told reporters afterward that the president-elect had given him a tutorial on world affairs.

"He basically walked us around the world," Petraeus said. "Showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities as well. Very good conversation, and we'll see where it goes from here."

In a Twitter post 15 minutes later, Trump said, "Just met with Gen Petraeus - was very impressed!"

Trump spent the day in back-to-back meetings after a quiet Thanksgiving weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

In addition to Petraeus, he met with Frances Fragos Townsend, a homeland security official in the Bush administration, and with David A. Clarke Jr., the tough-talking Milwaukee County sheriff. Both are candidates for secretary of homeland security.

As he was leaving Trump Tower on Monday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said, "There will be a number of very important announcements tomorrow."

Trump has already conferred with the other two leading candidates for the State Department post: Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, and Rudolph Giuliani, a former New York City mayor. He was scheduled to meet Romney again for dinner on Tuesday.

Petraeus, 64, was prosecuted for mishandling classified material in a scandal stemming from an extramarital affair with his biographer. During the relationship, he turned over his confidential diary to the biographer, Paula Broadwell, leading the FBI to recommend that he be charged with a felony. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.

If he is nominated, that could raise hurdles for Petraeus at his Senate confirmation hearing. It could also prompt the intelligence agencies to recommend against giving him a security clearance, though legal experts said the president could override that.