Senators: Don't demote Petraeus

Senators: Don't demote Petraeus
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Sens. John McCainJohn McCainPoliticians absent from Thompson Reuters brunch McCain downplays threat of pre-emptive strike against North Korea McCain plan gains momentum amid North Korea threats MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jack ReedJack ReedSunday shows preview: McMaster hits circuit for second straight week The Hill's 12:30 Report Easy accessibility of voter registration data imperils American safety MORE (D-R.I.) on Wednesday urged Defense Secretary Ash Carter not to demote David Petraeus from his status as a retired four-star general.

The Daily Beast reported earlier this week that Carter was considering demoting Petraeus over his misdemeanor conviction for sharing classified intelligence with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, a former Army intelligence officer with whom he had an extramarital affair. 

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“It is rare that a retirement grade determination is conducted for an officer previously retired from the U.S. armed forces,” McCain and Reed, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman and ranking member, wrote in a joint letter to Carter.

“It is rarer still that such a review would be conducted nearly four and a half years after the date the officer retired," they added. 

McCain and Reed — both military veterans — said decisions on lowering a retired officer's rank cannot be re-evaluated except for the cases of fraud, error or newly discovered evidence presented within a reasonable time frame. 

They pointed out that a demotion for Petraeus at this point would be discretionary. 

"We are concerned such a retirement grade review, taking place nearly a year after the misdemeanor conviction in which General Petraeus admitted his guilt, and apologized for his actions, is manifestly unreasonable and unfair," they said. 

“The unusual circumstances surrounding this review raise serious questions about the motivations behind it,” McCain added in a statement.

Petraeus testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee last September for the first time after news of his affair broke and he resigned as CIA director.  

The retired four-star general apologized to the committee before he began his testimony on U.S. policy in the Middle East, which was well-received by Republicans and Democrats on the committee. 

"We take this opportunity to remind you of General Petraeus’ long career of exceptionally distinguished, honorable and dedicated service to our Nation and to the soldiers he so brilliantly led to success in combat," McCain and Reed wrote. 

Updated at 6:12 a.m.