White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that President Obama “has faith” in Gen. John Allen, the top military commander in charge of operations in Afghanistan, who is linked to an investigation of CIA Director David Petraeus’ resignation.
Despite the expressions of confidence, Mr. Carney also pressed the Senate to confirm Gen. Allen’s successor as quickly as possible. Mr. Obama nominated Gen. Joseph Dunford to succeed Gen. Allen in Afghanistan several weeks ago after he nominated Gen. Allen to become NATO’s new Supreme Allied Commander.
Gen. Allen’s nomination to the NATO post has been placed on hold while the Pentagon inspector general looks into role in the Petraeus scandal. Gen. Dunford’s hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
U.S. defense officials have told several news outlets that the FBI has uncovered more than 20,000 pages of documents, most of them emails, that contain “potentially inappropriate” communication between Gen. Allen and Jill Kelley, the 37-year-old Tampa woman whose report of harassment by a person who turned out to be Mr. Petraeus’ mistress led to his downfall. The Pentagon acknowledged the investigation of Gen. Allen on Tuesday.
“The president thinks very highly of Gen. Allen and the service to the country,” Mr. Carney told reporters at a press briefing Tuesday. “He has faith in Gen. Allen and believes he is doing an excellent job at [the International Security Assistance Force].”
Repeatedly asked whether Mr. Petraeus’ admission of an extramarital affair and resignation was a distraction to other pressing matters such as negotiations over the fiscal cliff, Mr. Carney said the president was “certainly surprised when he was informed about the situation regarding Gen. Petraeus on Thursday.”