Brett McGurk, Obama's Iraq ambassador nominee lands in hot water over racy emails
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President Obama’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Iraq has got himself into hot water after racy emails allegedly revealing an affair with a Wall Street Journal reporter while both were in Baghdad were leaked online.
The emails, from 2008, are reportedly between Brett McGurk, a top adviser on Iraq to George W.Bush and Gina Chon, who was covering the Iraq War for the WSJ.
The messages, which have not been verified, show the couple’s banter about McGurk’s ‘blue balls’, ‘hooking up’ for the first time, as well as McGurk joking about divulging information and access to Chon.
The couple are now married. McGurk was married to another woman in 2006, although it is not clear if he was still married at the time of this alleged email exchange with Chon.
The cache of emails surfaced the day before McGurk appeared before a Senate panel on his nomination on Wednesday, although he was not questioned about them then.
They first appeared on photo-sharing site Flickr and were then posted on the blog, Cryptome.
In one email McGurk wrote: 'I had a very good day with the Iraqis — the best yet. Can't tell you about it of course.'
Chon’s reply: 'This is like a journalist's version of blue balls and it's really not fair.'
He fires back: 'Well it's only fair — since I had a very real case of blue balls last night!' He goes onto mention ‘self-healing’ exercises to cure the problem.
In another series of flirtatious exchanges Chon appears to compare news reporters after a scoop to vultures.
He teases: ‘If treated to many glasses of wine -- you could be the chosen vultures.'
Flirtatious: The email exchange, which has not been verified, shows the couple¿s banter about McGurk¿s ¿blue balls¿ and how he can shake off his security so him and Chon can hook up
In one email McGurk seems to boast that he can arrange for her to come to a dinner with a top Iraqi politician: 'I totally have rank to get you in here.' He later changes his mind.
There is no indication, however, of whether McGurk used his position to secure Chon access or provide her with sensitive information.
Other messages seem to show how the couple embarked on their clandestine relationship.
McGurk appears to be trying to shake off his security: ‘I'll provide plenty of warning before coming by. I need to figure out how to lose my goon squad. They tend to mar my most secret and clandestine missions,' he writes in one email.
In another he chronicles how their relationship developed: 'From my first message to you through our Chinese dinner to the blue balls banter and then my coming over to hook up with you for the first time (on June 23 -- a night the world should celebrate). 'I am so f****** smooth!'
Negotiations: While in Baghdad in 2008 McGurk was working on negotiations with the Iraqis over a potential forces agreement which would have left a small U.S. military presence in the country, Chon was reporting on the Iraq War for the WSJ
Following the leaked emails Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, who is on the Armed Services Committee, has said that he will not meet with McGurk, as he typically would, the Washington Post reported.
'Senator Inhofe always prefers to meet with nominees personally before giving his support,' said his spokesman, Jared Young. 'In regards to this nominee, Senator Inhofe has heard some concerning issues, and until those issues are cleared up, he will not meet with Mr. McGurk.'
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the White House had vetted McGurk before nominating him.
'We consider him uniquely qualified. All of the necessary things were done before his nomination, and we urge the Senate to confirm him,’ she said.
While in Baghdad in 2008 McGurk was working on negotiations with the Iraqis over a potential forces agreement which would have left a small U.S. military presence in the country.
All U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq last year after those talks broke down.