President Obama's nominee for ambassador to Iraq has withdrawn his nomination amid controversy over his affair with a Wall Street Journal reporter. Brett McGurk said he was stepping aside because Iraq urgently needs a new ambassador. Six of the nine Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote to the White House last week complaining about McGurk's "unprofessional conduct," raising fears that a confirmation fight could drag on for months, reports the Washington Post.
McGurk—who recently married reporter Gina Chon—said the controversy over racy emails between the two was a major part of his reason for withdrawing. Chon resigned from the WSJ last week after admitting that she had shown McGurk unpublished articles. The most difficult part of the process "was watching my wife become a part of it," he wrote in a letter to Obama. "She is the most precious thing in the world to me, and the depiction of our relationship has been both surreal and devastating." A National Security Council spokesman praised McGurk's years of service and said "there is no doubt that he will be called on again."