WASHINGTON - The nominee to be the next ambassador to Iraq faced doubts in the Senate on Friday after leaked e-mails showed him flirtatiously offering information to a journalist who became his wife.
In e-mails from 2008 that recently appeared on the Internet, Brett McGurk, then a senior aide in George W. Bush's White House, boasted of his high-level meetings and his ability to provide news to a Wall Street Journal reporter.
The e-mails are full of sexual innuendo and there was no evidence that McGurk was more than joking when he suggested he could offer sensitive information to reporter Gina Chon. The couple carried on an affair in Baghdad, when McGurk was reportedly married to someone else. They later married.
But the messages raised questions in the Senate, which needs to confirm President Barack Obama's nomination of McGurk to be ambassador to Iraq.
Senator James Inhofe "always prefers to meet with nominees personally before giving his support," a spokesman for the Republican from Oklahoma said.
"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," the spokesman said.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stood by McGurk and declined to discuss the e-mails.
"He spent the better part of the last decade serving our country in and out of Iraq, working for a Republican administration, a Democratic administration. He is, in our view, uniquely qualified to serve as our ambassador, and we urge the Senate to act quickly on his nomination," she said.
McGurk would be the first US ambassador since the withdrawal of US forces. He has served in a variety of roles in Iraq and is now an adviser to Ambassador James Jeffrey, also an appointee of Obama.