(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
Jeremy Diamond, CNN
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Scott Stuntz, Teton Valley News
Tal Kopan and Evan Perez, CNN