On Sunday, Wikileaks released another batch of Hillary Clinton’s campaign Chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails including one that includes a top Pentagon official offering unfiltered criticism and praise of a handful of military officials. Christopher Kirchhoff, a Pentagon official detailed to the National Security Council, sent an email on March 15, 2015 detailing his opinions of military leaders being considered for the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The exchange between Kirchhoff and John Podesta showed Kirchhoff pushing for Adm. James Winnefeld to get the nomination as the new chairman. Kirchhoff also criticized the current chief of staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford calling him a great leader who was “weak on strategic thinking.” Kirchhoff used his Government email to inform Podesta about the pros and cons of the four final candidates President Obama was going to select from.
“Ash is considering four candidates – Winnefeld, Commandant of the Marine Corp Joseph Dunford, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Mark Welsh, and PACOM Commander Admiral Sam Locklear,” Kirchhoff wrote to Podesta, referring to Defense Secretary Ash Carter as just “Ash.”
“Winnefeld is seen as the clearest thinker and most reliable performer, but often too abrasive to military and civilian leaders,” Kirchhoff wrote. He also added that Welsh and Dunford “are seen as great leaders but weak on strategic thinking.”
Kirchhoff added that Secretary Carter’s Chief of Staff, Eric Fanning, does not support Welsh’s candidacy. Further, he adds that Dunford asked Secretary Carter to remain in his current position as Commandant because “there is not a strong enough successor to replace him at this turbulent time for the Corps.”
Kirchhoff attached a “private and confidential” memo to the email which is written to Secretary Carter which goes further into his reasoning to push for Adm. Winnefeld.
“I believe you should give serious consideration to placing Winnefeld in the slate of candidates the White House evaluates as Dempsey’s successor,” he wrote in the memo. “I am naturally and fiercely loyal to a person I have worked so closely with. But I have also seen up close the traits in Winnefeld that would serve you and the President so well given the dynamics now at play within the White House team.”
Kirchhoff mentions the email recipient in the memo to Sec. Carter pushing Adm. Winnefeld stating simply, “Podesta likes him.”