Retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus said Sunday that he “made a serious mistake” five years ago when he shared classified information with his biographer and former mistress, Paula Broadwell.
“Five years ago, I made a serious mistake. I acknowledged it, I apologized for it, I paid a very heavy price for it, and I’ve learned from it,” Petraeus, a candidate to serve as secretary of state in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Petraeus, a counterinsurgency expert who oversaw the troop surge in Iraq under President George W. Bush, resigned as director of the CIA in 2012 when an FBI investigation uncovered emails he had exchanged with Broadwell.
The government considered bringing felony charges against Petraeus related to alleged fabrications to the FBI and a violation of a section of the Espionage Act, but ultimately never filed the charges. Instead, Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified material.
When deciding whether to approve his potential appointment as secretary of state, Congress “will have to factor that in,” Petraeus told ABC, referring to his guilty plea.
“And also, obviously, 38.5 years of otherwise fairly, in some cases, unique service to our country in uniform and at the CIA and 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,” he added.
Petraeus insisted again Sunday that nothing he shared with Broadwell “ended up in the biography or made it out to the public.”
“I made a mistake. I have, again, acknowledged it,” he said. “Folks will have to factor that in and determine whether that is indeed disqualifying or not.”
Critics have slammed what they see as Trump’s hypocrisy in considering Petraeus — who was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine for sharing classified information with Broadwell — for the role after spending months attacking Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
FBI Director James Comey called Clinton’s use of the server “extremely careless,” but ultimately recommended, after an 11-month investigation, that the Justice Department not bring criminal charges against her.