David Petraeus: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

David Petraeus, David Petraeus Donald Trump, National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn replacement

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Retired General David Petraeus was one of three candidates to replace Michael Flynn as President Donald Trump‘s National Security Adviser after Flynn resigned on Monday. Flynn didn’t tell Vice President Mike Pence in December that he talked about sanctions the Obama Administration planned for Russia after it learned that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 presidential election. However, Petraeus is now out of the running for the NSA position.

Petraeus had been pegged for a job within the Trump Administration, even meeting with Trump at Trump Tower in New York during the transition. However, the former CIA Director under President Barack Obama ultimately did not get a job in the White House at first. Although CNN had him as one of three candidates to replace Flynn, Petraues is now not under consideration.

The other two candidates were interim National Security Adviser and Retired General Keith Kellogg and Retired Vice Admiral Robert Howard.

Petraeus is married to Holly Knowlton. They have two children, Stephen and Anne. Petraeus was active in the military from 1974 until his retirement in 2011, before he became the CIA Director.

Petraeus is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point and was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. He also successfully fought prostate cancer in 2009.

Here’s a look at Petraeus’ relationship with Trump and the scandal that brought him down.


1. Trump Reportedly Considered Petraeus for Secretary of State Before Picking Rex Tillerson

David Petraeus, David Petraeus Donald Trump, National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn replacement

David Petraeus at Trump Tower on November 28. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Before Trump picked former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, Petraeus was being considered for that job. As The Washington Post reports, Petraeus met with Trump on November 28. At the time, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani were considered the frontrunners for the post.

Politico reports that the meeting lasted an hour.

The very fact that Petraeus was even being considered raised some eyebrows because he admitted to lying to the FBI and sharing classified documents with his biographer, who he was also having an extramarital affair with. But Trump argued that he did less damage than his rival, Hillary Clinton, did.

“Other lives, including Gen. Petraeus and many others, have been destroyed for doing far, far less,” Trump said at a rally in October. “This is a conspiracy against you, the American people, and we cannot let this happen or continue.”


2. Petraeus Is Confident Trump Won’t Use Torture During his Administration

David Petraeus, David Petraeus Donald Trump, National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn replacement

(Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

Although Petraeus is not in the Trump administration, he still gave his thoughts on what Trump will do in the White House. He told CNN on January 11 that he doesn’t think Trump is serious about using torture. Petraeus himself doesn’t think the “enhanced interrogation” techniques work.

“And for what it is worth, I have publicly, as you know, for a number of years stated that enhanced interrogation techniques — whatever you want to call this — (A) doesn’t work — it certainly doesn’t work sufficiently to justify the enormous penalties that you will end up incurring as a result of doing that,” he told CNN.

As the Associated Press reported on February 1, Petraeus said that Trump’s immigration executive order barred General Talib al-Kenani, the commander of Iraq’s counter-terrorism forces, from attending a meeting with U.S. Central Command in Florida.

“We must also remember that Islamic extremists want to portray this fight as a clash of civilizations, with America at war against Islam,” Petraeus said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on February 1. “We must not let them do that. Indeed, we must be very sensitive to actions that might give them ammunition in such an effort.”


3. Petraeus Will Still be on Probation if He Becomes National Security Adviser

David Petraeus, David Petraeus Donald Trump, National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn replacement

Petraeus in 2009. He was considered an expert on counterinsurgency. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Petraeus’ fall from grace came hard and fast. While Director of the CIA under President Obama in 2012, the FBI discovered that he was having an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. While she was working on the book, Petraeus provided her with confidential information. Petraeus resigned in November 2012, after just over a year as CIA director.

The Washington Post reports that prosecutors suggested Petraeus be charged with a felony, including lying to the FBI and violating the Espionage Act. The government opted not to file felony charges, and he instead faced one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information.

Instead, Petraeus pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years probation and a $100,000 fine. He will still be on probation if he is picked to be the new NSA. According to CNN, Petraeus will have to to tell his probation officer in North Carolina that he will be moving to Washington, DC and the officer also has to approve of his work.

“The defendant shall notify the probation officer within 72 hours of any change in residence or employment,” the court judgement reads. “The defendant shall not leave the Western District of North Carolina without the permission of the Court or probation officer. Travel allowed for work as approved by US probation office.”


4. Petraeus Played a Key Role in Planning the Iraq War Surge in 2007

David Petraeus, David Petraeus Donald Trump, National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn replacement

Petraeus in 2010, when he was the Commander of the United States Central Command. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Petraeus became a highly lauded figure in the military thanks to his roles in the Iraq War. He was a key part in “The Surge,” which saw an increase in American troops in Iraq. Over 20,000 additional soldiers were sent there, and most of them went into Baghdad as part of a counterinsurgency strategy. At the time, Petraeus was made Commander of Multinational Force Iraq.

In a 2013 piece for Foreign Policy, Petraeus explained how the Surge succeeded. Petraeus wrote:

As important as the surge of forces was, however, the most important surge was what I termed “the surge of ideas” — the changes in our overall strategy and operational plans. The most significant of these was the shift from trying to hand off security tasks to Iraqi forces to focusing on the security of the Iraqi people. The biggest of the big ideas that guided the strategy during the surge was explicit recognition that the most important terrain in the campaign in Iraq was the human terrain — the people — and our most important mission was to improve their security. Security improvements would, in turn, provide Iraq’s political leaders the opportunity to forge agreements on issues that would reduce ethno-sectarian disputes and establish the foundation on which other efforts could be built to improve the lives of the Iraqi people and give them a stake in the success of the new state.

Petraeus was the Commander of United States Central Command from 2008 to 2010. Obama made him Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in 2010, after Gen. Stanley McChrystal resigned after he was publicly critical of Obama in a Rolling Stone interview. Petraeus first saw combat in Iraq in 2003 as commander of the 101st Airborne Division. One of his successful campaigns was the focus of Rick Atkinson’s book In The Company of Soldiers.

Obama was initially critical of the surge when he was a Senator. However, in 2009, Petraeus told Fox News that Obama told him that the surge was a success while he thought about calling for a similar surge in Afghanistan.

“He did in fact, although I tell you we spent a lot of time taking the rearview mirrors off the bus,” Petraeus said in 2009, a week after Obama ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.


5. Petraeus Has Said Repeatedly That He’ll Never Run for the White House

David Petraeus, David Petraeus Donald Trump, National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn replacement, David Petraeus affair, Paula Broadwell

Petraeus is seen here shaking hands with Paula Broadwell, the biographer who he had an extramarital affair with. (Photo by ISAF via Getty Images)

Before his scandal at the CIA, Petreus was seen as a potential political candidate. However, he has repeatedly said that he would never run for political office.

“I have great respect for those who do choose to serve our country in that way. I’ve chosen to serve our country in uniform,” Petraeus said in 2007. “And I think that [General William T. Sherman] had it right when he gave what is now commonly referred to as a Shermanesque response when asked a similar question.”

Despite saying that he would never run, he did appear on a Washington Post list of potential military leaders Republicans could have drafted to run in 2016.