Former CIA Director David H. Petraeus‘ resignation after admitting an extramarital affair had nothing to do with scrutiny of the Sept. 11 attak on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday.
“I see nothing to indicate that [the affair or its exposure] had any impact on his decisions that he made relative to Benghazi or any other issue,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday” after hearing closed-door testimony Friday from the retired four-star Army general about the attack.
“He has always been very straightforward and he was very straightforward on Friday,” Mr. Chambliss said, dismissing a suggestion that, in Mr. Petraeus‘ testimony to Congress in the days immediately after the attack, he might have been “toeing the line to try to keep his job.”
On the same show, Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, questioned whether Attorney General Eric J. Holder Jr. might have told President Obama about the FBI investigation that uncovered evidence of the affair weeks before the Justice Department formally notified the administration.
“I’m not sure the president was not told before Election Day,” said Mr. Rogers, Michigan Republican. “The attorney general said that the Department of Justice did not notify the president, but we don’t know if the attorney general” might have informed him.
Asked if he was saying the president knew about the affair before Election Day, Mr. Rogers said: “I didn’t say that. I said I don’t know we just have to ask the question. I hope [Mr. Holder] comes up to the Hill to talk to us about it.”
Mr. Holder has said the FBI, which uncovered the Petraeus affair during an investigation of anonymous, harassing emails sent to a Florida socialite, had determined there was no threat to national security and no need to inform the president more quickly.
But Rep. Peter King, New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News that Mr. Holder, who had known for “a long while” about the affair, “had an absolute obligation to tell the president.”
“Now, a senior government official not Mr. Petraeus also weighed in at some point in this — before the investigation was open and said, ‘I think we have a security threat issue here that needs to be investigated,’” said Mr. Rogers. “That’s how this case got started.”
The revelation is significant because official statements that there was no national security threat posed by the affair appear at odds with the FBI’s decision to launch an investigation.
The FBI was first approached by Florida socialite Jill Kelley after she received anonymous e-mails warning her away from Mr. Petraeus. The emails were traced to Mr. Petraeus‘ biographer, Paula Bradwell, with whom he had been having an affair.
“If this case was opened as a criminal investigation, as a criminal case it should have been a matter for the local police,” one former senior FBI official told The Washington Times.
“If there was a national security issue, the FBI has to report to the attorney general, and the attorney general tells the White House counsel,” the former official said. “There’s something about this that we don’t know.”