Petraeus, Harward & Kellogg: Possible Flynn Replacements

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General David Petraeus (Getty Images)

Now that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has tendered his resignation over his conversations with the Russian ambassador, eyes are turning to potential replacements.

Already, a controversial name has emerged: General David Petraeus, much lauded for his work in Iraq but under the shadow of scandal and a criminal conviction (the former CIA director is still on probation, in fact). There are two other leading contenders, though: Vice Admiral Robert Harward and retired General Keith Kellogg, the latter of whom has temporarily assumed the position.

Andrea Mitchell, of NBC News, reports that Harward is a protege of Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog Mattis” and is a “top candidate,” but Petraeus is also under consideration.

Flynn resigned February 13, just days after The New York Times and Washington Post reported that he had spoken about sanctions to the Russian ambassador, despite previous denials from both Flynn and VP Mike Pence on those questions. The Times indicated the government may have been eavesdropping on the ambassador’s conversations.

In his resignation letter, Flynn apologized to both Trump and Pence. With scandal swirling, the new president will need to act fast to fill the critical post, which does not need Senate confirmation.

Here are the top names to circulate:

David Petraeus

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - NOVEMBER 08: Retired US Army Gen. David Petraeus attends the 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony on November 8, 2015 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Retired US Army Gen. David Petraeus attends the 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony on November 8, 2015 in Mountain View, California. (Getty)

Here’s the thing about Petraeus. He’s greatly respected in many corners for his military acumen. Trump considered him for a cabinet post, (secretary of state, reports said), and Petraeus was seen going into Trump Tower during the presidential transition. But he would come with baggage, not the least of which is his criminal conviction and resignation from the CIA.

Consideration of him seems serious. “Retired Gen. David Petraeus will be ‘coming in’ Tuesday (February 14) to discuss the position” of national security adviser, The Washington Times reported.

The affair between David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, his biographer, is well known. In the criminal case, according to the Washington Post, Petraeus admitted “that he improperly removed and retained highly sensitive information in eight personal notebooks that he gave the biographer, Paula Broadwell, to read.”

NPR reported that prosecutors said the books Petraeus gave to Broadwell, known as the “Black Books,” contained sensitive information that was classified.

A total of eight such books (hereinafter the “Black Books”) encompassed the period of defendant David Howell Petraeus’s ISAF Command and collectively contained classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and defendant David Howell Petraeus’s discussions with the President of the United States of America. The Black Books contained national defense information, including Top Secret/SCI and code word information.

Ultimately, Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information in a plea deal that saw him receive probation and a fine. ABC News said Petraeus received 2 years probation and a $100,000 fine for what the network called “classified leaks.” ABC reported that Jill Westmoreland Rose, the acting U.S. Attorney handling the case, had said: “Today David Petraeus admitted that he removed and obtained classified and that he lied to the FBI and CIA.”

The fine was higher than the $40,000 prosecutors recommended, ABC News said. The judge increased it, explaining he wanted “to send a clear message discouraging actions like Petraeus’s.”

On the other hand, no one disputes Petraeus’ considerable military talents.

Retired General Keith Kellogg

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General Keith Kellogg. (Getty)

Kellogg has been chief of staff for the White House National Security Council. He is currently the acting national security adviser until Flynn’s replacement is found, which begs the question of whether he will get the permanent slot and just stay on.

Kellogg served in the U.S. Army prior to being appointed to Donald Trump’s National Security Council.

Kellogg served in the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War, and he commanded the 82nd Airborne Division starting in 1996. After the invasion of Iraq, Kellogg served as chief operating officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority, the transitional government of Iraq established in March 2003 and dissolved in June 2004.

Kellogg also worked as chief of staff to L. Paul Bremer III, leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority who was appointed by President George W. Bush in May 2003. You can read more about Kellogg’s biography here:

Robert Harward

Robert Harward

Robert Harward. (U.S. Navy photo)

According to Reuters, Harward is “a former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command” who is “under consideration for the position.”

Harward certainly has a bio to impress. His Navy biography reads that Harward served “as deputy commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), located in Tampa, Fla. Harward qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the destroyer USS Scott (DDG 995), and then transferred to the Naval Special Warfare community. He was the “Honor Man” of Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD)/Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) class 128, and has served in both East and West coast SEAL teams.”

The bio continues: “Tours in the Naval Special Warfare community include: commander, SEAL Team Three; Assault Team leader and operations officer at Naval Special Warfare Development Group; SEAL plans officer for Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet; executive officer, Naval Special Warfare Unit One; aide-de-camp to Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) deputy commander in Bosnia; deputy commander Special Operations Command, Pacific; commander, Naval Special Warfare Group One; and, deputy commanding general, Joint Special Operations Command.”

And that’s just for starters. You can read the rest here.

According to The Associated Press, “Upon retirement in 2013 after a nearly 40-year career in the Navy, Harward took a post as a chief executive officer for defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates.”