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Entries in Brett McGurk (4)

Monday
Jun182012

McGurk Withdrawing Nomination to Be Ambassador to Iraq

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Brett McGurk, has withdrawn his nomination amid questions about his professionalism and experience.

Some on Capitol Hill already had questions about McGurk, a former National Security Council staffer for both President George W. Bush and President Obama, given his lack of managerial experience and role in negotiations with Iraq that ended with the United States withdrawing all combat troops.

It seemed McGurk might weather those criticisms, but earlier this month someone leaked emails he sent in 2008 while in Iraq, ones in which he wooed a female Wall Street Journal reporter — perhaps jokingly referencing favors of access and information. He later divorced his wife and married the reporter. Senators wanted to question McGurk about suggestions in the emails, jokingly or otherwise, that he would give a reporter access to sensitive information and power if their relationship blossomed.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement: “We greatly appreciate Brett’s years of service on behalf of the United States, to include tireless and effective leadership in Iraq from the height of the war to the moment our last troops left Iraq in December and through the challenging transition earlier this year. He served in two administrations, and his commitment to the national interest and to the mission was always clear. He has proven himself to be a skilled diplomat willing to take on some of the toughest challenges at the toughest times in a difficult region. While we regret to see Brett withdraw his candidacy there is no doubt that he will be called on again to serve the country.”

Last week, six Republican senators on the Foreign Relations Committee asked the president to withdraw McGurk’s nomination. White House press secretary Jay Carney said in response that “the president put forward this nominee because he is qualified for the job and will serve ably when he’s confirmed.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Senate GOP Calls on Obama to Pull McGurk Nomination

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Six Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today called on President Obama to withdraw his nominee for U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Brett McGurk, after a racy email exchange and affair with a reporter was leaked late last week.

The senators call into question McGurk’s judgment given the email scandal in which he perhaps jokingly references favors of access and information to a Wall Street Journal journalist, who he had an affair with.

“As members of the committee, with the responsibility of providing advice and consent, we write to respectfully urge you to reconsider this nomination,” Senators Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, James Risch, R-Idaho, John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, Mike Lee, R-Utah, Marco Rubio, R-Florida and James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, write. “There are strong concerns about Mr. McGurk’s qualifications, his ability to work with Iraqi officials, and now his judgment.”

The senators highlight concerns they had about McGurk even before the emails were leaked – his lack of “leadership and management experience, his lead role in the “botched 2011 Status of Forces Agreement negotiation, and reports that some Iraqi political groups have stated they will not work with Mr. McGurk if confirmed as the next Ambassador.”

But it is this latest email scandal that may have been the last straw for McGurk, the senators’ letter implies.

“The public release of information detailing unprofessional conduct demonstrates poor judgment and will affect the nominee’s credibility in the country where he has been nominated to serve. The fact that this information was not disclosed to senators is also disconcerting.”

All these issues together, the Republican Senators state, cannot be overlooked.

“The U.S.-Iraq relationship is of the utmost importance to us, and we respectfully request that you withdraw this nominee and nominate someone with the qualifications necessary to ensure success in this position,” the letter stated.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today was adamant that the White House still backs McGurk’s nomination.

“We believe that the United States will be greatly served by Mr. McGurk’s experience in Iraq, which is substantial,” Carney said in response to the letter this afternoon. “The president supports his nomination he put forward. He has a great deal of experience in Iraq, not just in this administration but in the prior administration. He thinks he will serve ably as ambassador.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

State Department Sticks By McGurk, Despite Racy Emails

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When sexually explicit emails first surfaced between Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s nominee to be the ambassador to Iraq, and a Wall Street Journal reporter who later became McGurk’s wife, the State Department refused to comment.

But now spokesperson Victoria Nuland is making it clear the State Department is sticking by its choice.

Nuland defended the nomination of McGurk calling him “uniquely qualified” for the position.

“He spent the better part of the last decade serving our country in and out of Iraq, working for a Republican administration, a Democratic administration,” she told reporters. “He is in our view uniquely qualified to serve as the ambassador and we urge the Senate to act quickly on his nomination,” she said.

Nuland would not comment directly on the explicit nature of the emails, some of which included references to masturbation. The email exchanges were sent to Gina Chon in 2008 when McGurk was working in Iraq negotiating sensitive diplomatic issues such as the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. Chon was covering Iraq for the Journal. At the time McGurk was married. The blog Cryptome published their racy correspondence earlier this week. ABC News has confirmed the authenticity of the emails.

Senate sources tell ABC News that they have questions over whether McGurk was offering access to information and power, even jokingly, to Chon as part of their blooming relationship. For example in one email Chon jokingly refers to reporters as vultures attacking sources, to which he replies, “If treated to many glasses of wine -- you could be the chosen vulture.”

McGurk also talks about bringing the reporter with him to dinner with a leading Iraqi politician. He ultimately does not, but writes later, “I had a very good day with the Iraqi’s … the best yet. Can’t tell you about it of course. But you should definitely stay past Sunday,” he writes.

McGurk and Chon are now married, a point Nuland made to reporters saying that she had no comment on the emails except that “they are out there for everyone to see between him and the woman who subsequently became his wife.”

As to whether McGurk was properly vetted, Nuland maintained that “all of the necessary things were done before his nomination” and managed with the exact same process the administration uses for all nominations.

Nuland would not comment specifically about Republican Senate criticism of the emails and McGurk’s nomination, but confirmed that the department is continuing to work with members of Congress over McGurk’s nomination process, “in support of it as we do on all nominees.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

Leaked Emails Dampen Support for Obama's Iraqi Ambassador Pick

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As a former national security staffer for President George W. Bush, President Obama's nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Brett McGurk, was supposed to garner bipartisan support for his confirmation.  But leaked emails of McGurk wooing a female Wall Street Journal reporter -- referencing favors of access and information -- have alarmed many senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, sources tell ABC News.

"Overnight, support for him has cratered," says a Republican staffer on the committee.

Already, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Olka., canceled a meeting with McGurk over this and another allegation, refusing to get together until the nominee answers questions about these emails and what they mean.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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