Speed Reads

Probation Problems

Donald Trump would have to pardon David Petraeus before nominating him for secretary of state

Retired Gen. David Petraeus is reportedly one of four or five finalists President-elect Donald Trump is considering for secretary of state. He is also on probation for mishandling classified information, including sharing it with his biographer-mistress. Under the terms of his probation, Petraeus "shall not leave the Western District of North Carolina without the permission of the Court or probation officer," though he can travel for work "as approved by U.S. probation office." He would also have to notify his probation officer "within 72 hours of any change in residence or employment," which would seem to be easy enough if he accepts the secretary of state position.

On the other hand, having to inform a probation officer of your movements would be a huge pain for a secretary of state, a job that involves a lot of work-related travel. Also, Petraeus agreed to warrantless searches of his home, office, person, and computers and other electronic devices, which would be really problematic. Still, Petraeus' probation only lasts until April 23, 2017, and Trump could presumably shorten that further with a quick presidential pardon.

In fact, according to Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano, Trump would have to pardon Petraeus anyway. "At the time of his guilty plea, he admitted to taking federal government property," Napolitano said Tuesday on Fox News. "That would bar him from holding a federal office." Presidents usually pardon people at the end of their terms, "because these pardons are often controversial, and they don't want to live with the controversy," he added. "Something tells me Donald Trump doesn't care about the controversy."