Obama backs Iraq envoy nominee despite affair revelations

WASHINGTON Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:15am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha step off Air Force One in Chicago June 15, 2012. The first family arrived in their hometown for the Father's Day weekend. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha step off Air Force One in Chicago June 15, 2012. The first family arrived in their hometown for the Father's Day weekend.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has no plans to withdraw Brett McGurk's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq, despite Republican demands after revelations that the nominee had engaged in an extra-marital affair with a journalist whom he later married, the White House said on Sunday.

Six of the nine Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote to Obama last week requesting a new choice to head the huge U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Asked on the CNN program "State of the Union" whether Obama had any plans to withdraw the nomination, senior White House adviser David Plouffe said, "No. We've made this nomination and we think he will ably serve as ambassador."

In their letter to Obama, the Republican senators wrote: "We believe the nominee lacks the leadership and management experience necessary to head America's largest embassy, in one of the world's most volatile regions."

Their letter referred to "the public release of information detailing unprofessional conduct" that they said "demonstrates poor judgment and will affect the nominee's credibility in the country where he has been nominated to serve."

According to media reports, Gina Chon, a Wall Street Journal reporter who had been covering the Iraq war, had an affair with McGurk when he lived in Baghdad and served in the Bush administration's National Security Council. The two have since married. Chon has resigned from the Wall Street Journal.

A series of email exchanges between Chon and McGurk have surfaced as the ambassadorial nomination has been pending in the Senate.

The Republican senators - Jim DeMint, James Risch, John Barrasso, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio and James Inhofe - cited other reservations with McGurk, including concern over "reports that some Iraqi political groups have stated they will not work with Mr. McGurk if confirmed as the next ambassador." (Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Will Dunham; editing by David Brunnstrom)

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Comments (9)
Chazz wrote:
The bar for personal integrity of our “leaders” keeps getting lowered, rung by rung.

Jun 17, 2012 9:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Suchindranath wrote:
All part of opening up Afghanistan to interesting alternatives?

Jun 17, 2012 9:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
da47ve wrote:
Because of the precarious position that the bamsterboipos is in with the voters, I say that he should be suspended until November from making any appointments. He lacks judgement and common sense. He’s an incompetent boob that needs to stay in Chicago in exile.

Jun 17, 2012 9:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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