Just days after seven Republican senators on the Foreign Relations Committee urged President Obama to pick a new nominee for the ambassadorship to Iraq, the White House is doubling down on Brett McGurk. Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union this morning, senior White House adviser David Plouffe said, “We’ve made this nomination and we think he will ably serve as ambassador.” McGurk’s approval process was derailed over the leak of some awkward and flirty 2008 e-mails between a married McGurk (a National Security Council official in Iraq at the time) and now-former Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon, who is his current wife. Though there is little evidence in the e-mails that McGurk fed information to Chon, the GOP senators maintain that McGurk’s “unprofessional conduct” in the matter “demonstrates poor judgement” and proves he is unfit for the job. (Chon, on the other hand, quit her job at the Journal after admitting that she shared unpublished articles with McGurk.)
Later in the morning, Plouffe spoke about another leak-related story, this time to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. When pushed to say whether President Obama would sit for questioning by the U.S. Attorney–led investigation into the recent spate of national security leaks, Plouffe shot back, “I’m not going to answer his particular involvement right now, Chris.” And though he would also not say whether Obama would require senior administration officials to submit to questioning — so far Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller already have — he did confirm that the president himself had not authorized the declassification of any of the leaked material.
Critics, of course, remained unconvinced. Joe Liebermann, the Senate’s hawkiest national security hawk, also appeared on Fox News Sunday to say that the Justice Department probe is not enough and that an independent counsel should be appointed — something, Wallace points out, that then-senator Barack Obama called for during the Jack Abramoff lobbying debacle.