World Bulletin / News Desk
Donald Trump held talks Monday with David Petraeus, one of America's most celebrated generals who subsequently resigned from the CIA in disgrace, as the president-elect narrowed his contentious search for a secretary of state.
The retired general, who served as commander in Iraq and Afghanistan before a stunning fall from grace for leaking classified material to his mistress, told reporters that the meeting lasted around an hour.
Trump "showed a great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there and some of the opportunities," Petraeus said, describing their conversation as "very good."
"We'll see where it goes from here," he told reporters at Trump Tower.
Trump himself was also positive, tweeting "Just met with General Petraeus--was very impressed!"
He took over the CIA in 2011, but resigned in 2012 after coming under investigation for giving classified information to his biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom he was having an affair.
In 2015, he was put on two years' probation and fined $100,000 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information -- facts that could pose a problem to getting Senate approval as America's top diplomat.
On the campaign trail, Trump railed against the FBI's decision not to prosecute rival Hillary Clinton over her "extremely careless" handling of classified emails, by saying Petraeus had been punished for less.
On Tuesday, Trump is also scheduled to meet Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Republican senator from Tennessee, and for a second time, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the president-elect had met a number of well qualified candidates, but declined to say how close he may be to a decision on the secretary of state vacancy.
"He's going to pick the person that he thinks will do the absolutely best job," Miller told reporters.
The quest for America's next top diplomat has sparked infighting in the Trump camp, with some loyalists bitterly opposed to Romney, who was one of the president-elect's most outspoken Republican critics during the campaign.
Top aide Kellyanne Conway -- unusually for a senior political aide -- spoke out publicly about Romney's shortcomings, saying she had received "a deluge" of concern from supporters and stressing his past animosity towards Trump.
The 2012 Republican presidential candidate called Trump a "fraud" and a "conman," and refused to endorse him.
Some Trump supporters have instead pushed for outspoken Rudy Giuliani -- mayor of New York on September 11, 2001 -- to fill the vacancy -- despite scrutiny over business dealings that could pose conflicts of interest.
Picking Romney could instead reassure the Republican establishment and US allies worried about Trump's foreign policy.
Trump last week moved to broaden his cabinet base beyond mainly older white men by nominating South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley -- whose parents are Indian immigrants -- as US ambassador to the United Nations.