David Petraeus made a last-ditch effort Sunday to show President-elect Donald Trump that his guilty plea for revealing classified information to his mistress and biographer shouldn’t disqualify him from serving as America’s top diplomat.
Petraeus, the former general and CIA director, was asked on ABC’s “This Week” what he would say to Republican senators who are hesitant to vote to confirm a man who pled guilty to exactly what they spent months accusing Hillary Clinton of doing via her private email server.
“What I would say to them is what I’ve acknowledged for a number of years. Five years ago, I made a serious mistake,” Petraeus said.
“I acknowledged it. I apologized for it. I paid a very heavy price for it and I’ve learned from it,” he said. “And, again, they’ll have to factor that in and also obviously 38-and-a-half years of otherwise fairly in some cases unique service to our country in uniform and then at the CIA and then some four years or so in the business community, during which I’ve continued to travel the world — nearly 40 countries — in that time as well.”
His comments come as Trump considers a list of contenders for secretary of state that includes Petraeus.
Also on that list: Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and former UN ambassador John Bolton, according to Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Sources told CNN that former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, President Barack Obama’s first ambassador to China, is also under consideration.
Trump frequently said on the campaign trail that what Clinton had done was far worse than Petraeus. But Petraeus was charged and entered a guilty plea in exchange for two years of probation and a $100,000 fine.
Petraeus admitted making false statements to the FBI, saying that “obviously I made a false statement. At the time I didn’t think it was false.”
“But, again, look, I made a mistake. I have again acknowledged it, folks will have to factor that in and determine whether that is indeed disqualifying or not,” he said.
Petraeus said his impression of Trump after the two met last week is that the President-elect is “quite pragmatic.”
He also said he didn’t vote for Trump.
“I don’t vote. So that’s an easy answer,” he said. “And I also did not support him nor did I oppose him, nor did I support or oppose any other candidate. I’ve truly tried to be apolitical, non-political.”