David Petraeus, the retired four-star general who led the CIA until he resigned in 2012, says he would serve in President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet if asked.
‘The only response can be: “yes, Mr President,” Petraeus told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
Petraeus, 64, has been mentioned as a possible contender for secretary of state and secretary of defense.
He was charged with a misdemeanor and plead guilty to mishandling classified information after he shared government secrets with his mistress.
Retired General David Petraeus, pictured on June 20, 2016, has been mentioned as a possible contender for secretary of state ©Bryan R. Smith (AFP/File)
A celebrated general, he led the US surge in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, and was later pulled from his post as head of US Central Command to lead the NATO force in Afghanistan in 2010.
‘I’ve been in a position before where a president has turned to me in the Oval Office in a difficult moment, without any pleasantries, and said, “I’m asking you as your president and commander in chief to take command of the international security force in Afghanistan,” ‘ he told BBC.
Petraeus took over the CIA in mid-2011 after retiring from the military, but resigned in late 2012 after coming under investigation for giving Paula Broadwell, his biographer and mistress, access to classified information.
His legal troubles were reminiscent of those faced by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was dogged during the campaign by an FBI investigation into her use of a private server to send email — an issue Trump and his supporters relentlessly exploited with chants of ‘lock her up!’
The FBI declined to file charges in Clinton’s case and Trump indicated Tuesday he’s no longer interested in revisiting that decision.
So far, Trump has named four individuals to his cabinet and hired a chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and senior counselor, Steve Bannon.
The president-elect has chosen Sen. Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general, Nikki Haley to be his ambassador to the United Nations, Rep. Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA and Betsey DeVos to serve as secretary of education.
He’s also tapped retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn to be his national security adviser.
Petrateus observed in the Radio 4 interview other officials who have spoken to Trump since the election have said ‘he’s very personable, very hospitable, very gracious guy, full of questions and dialogue.’
BBC asked whether Trump had the temperament to be president.
‘We’re going to have to see,’ he said. ‘I’m not someone who’s had contact with him in the past. I don’t know how he operates.’
He said the billionaire has clearly ‘done pretty well in life,’ though.
Taking a position he said, ‘I think so, yes.
‘It’s up to Americans at this point in time not only to hope that that is the case, but if they can, endeavor to help him,’ he said.
Petraeus is willing to be one of them if the president-elect makes the call.
‘If you’re asked, you’ve got to serve — put aside any reservations based on campaign rhetoric… and figure out what’s best for the country.’
He former compared Trump to another Republican president Richard Nixon, who made in-roads with China before he resigned in disgrace, and said, ‘Only Nixon could have gone to China. Anyone else would have been criticized from the right.
‘I think that the current president would have been criticized from the right had he tried some of the kinds of outreach that, in fact, President-elect Trump may pursue,’ Petraeus said of President Barack Obama.
Obama has also moved the needle on talks with China. This September the two nations signed onto a climate accord that Trump is threatening to call off that requires the two large countries and 194 others to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions.