After serving as director of the CIA and head of Centcom, he knows the chessboard in the Middle East as well as anyone alive. And he had plenty of practice at hard diplomacy when he was America’s viceroy in Iraq. Putting him in the cabinet would also reassure some nervous Republican natsec operatives who are holding out on joining the administration for fear that the operation will be amateurish. Even Petraeus’s sex scandal seems to matter much less now that the country just rubber-stamped Donald Trump as president.

Just one problem. Having defeated Hillary Clinton for the presidency, is Trump really going to appoint someone as Secretary of State who was … convicted of mishandling classified material? C’mon.

David Petraeus – the former US army general and CIA director who was prosecuted for mishandling classified information – has entered the race to become Donald Trump’s secretary of state, diplomatic sources said on Thursday…

Petraeus, who was also a US commander in Afghanistan and Iraq, has made flattering remarks about Trump since the election. “He’s right to criticise Washington over its partisanship and its inability to forge compromises,” he told the German cable news channel Deutsche Welle this week. “He’s a dealmaker. Let’s see if he can make some deals in Washington.”

He added: “This is an individual who is a political outsider. Perhaps he can do something in Washington that the political insiders, who he rightly criticises, have been unable to do, which is to come together to give a little, to gain a lot for our country.”

Supposedly he’s “anxious to return to public life,” but I don’t know how he gets confirmed after Republicans just spent six months insisting that Clinton’s email scandal was disqualifying. Unlike her, Petraeus actually has a criminal record for his misdeeds in sharing classified info. I guess you could sell to that public by emphasizing his years of exemplary military service: “We can’t spare a man this qualified over one mistake when the task of making America great again is so yuuuuuuge.”

How many different candidates have been floated now for Secretary of State, by the way? The original list was John Bolton, Bob Corker, and Newt Gingrich. Then Rudy Giuliani emerged as a strong contender. In the last 24 hours Petraeus, Nikki Haley, and Mitt farking Romney have been added. As I said in another post, this is starting to feel less like an actual vacancy they’re trying to fill and more like a carrot they’re using for PR purposes, either to entice political opponents into making nice with Trump (Romney and Haley) or to earn some points with the wider public on the cheap for supposedly considering esteemed people (Petraeus). If Giuliani really wants the position, he’s probably going to get it as a reward for his loyalty this summer. But first Team Trump is going to make use of it for a little Apprentice-style competitive intrigue.

You can scratch one name off the list, though, as of 4:30 ET this afternoon: Newt, it seems, won’t be in the cabinet.

“I want to be free to network across the whole system and look at what we have to do to succeed,” Gingrich said when briefly reached by phone. Holding a Cabinet post would have been “not physically doable,” he said.

The remarks from the former GOP presidential candidate, 73, came after he told McClatchy he intends to focus on “strategic planning” during the Trump administration rather than run a federal department. The former House speaker said he does not plan to hold any official role under Trump.

That’s consistent with what he said a few days ago about focusing on government reorganization, not heading an agency. Which is smart, really, if Newt’s eager to have a freer hand in his work. It’s easy to imagine Trump clashing with his Secretary of State over policy towards a certain country, not as easy to imagine him questioning Gingrich’s wonkier suggestions about how to streamline the federal leviathan. Especially if Newt’s plan adds up to more direct executive influence, which is likely to be the case.

Exit question: At the rate we’re going with Secretary of State, we’ll probably hear Hillary’s name floated for the position tomorrow, huh? Reconciliation!