One day after President Obama accepted the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, Republicans say the general is still expected to answer congressional questions about the Obama administration’s handling of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in Libya that claimed the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Saturday that Mr. Petraeus’ testimony is “essential.”
“I strongly believe that General Petreaus has to testify, if not this week, then the following week or sometime very soon because it’s not the CIA director who has to testify, it’s the person who was involved at the time of Benghazi. And that was David Petraeus,” the New York congressman told Fox News.
Mr. Petraeus stepped down as CIA director on Friday, citing an extramarital affair in his resignation letter, but Republicans, including Mr. King, contend that the retired four-star general’s resignation should not preclude him from speaking to House and Senate committees looking into the Obama administration’s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The acting director of the CIA, Mike Morell, is expected to take the general’s place at the closed door intelligence committee hearings set for Thursday on Capitol Hill.
On Friday night, Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, said Congress would subpoena the general if necessary.
“The fact that he’s resigned and had an affair has nothing to do with whether or not he’s going be subpoenaed to Congress,” Mr. Gowdy said on Fox News. “I hope we don’t have to subpoena a four-star general and the former CIA director. I hope he would come voluntarily. But if he won’t, he will be subpoenaed and none of what has happened today is a defense to a subpoena.”
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined a chorus of Republicans questioning the timing the resignation – just days after the re-election of President Obama.
The former GOP presidential nominee on Fox News said the Petraeus resignation is the latest example of the Obama administration’s “suppression” of information.
“Now we’re going to have a hearing next week, and the man who knows the facts, David Petraeus – he’s the only man who can really tell us what the CIA knew, what they did, why they did it, how they did it – he’s not going to testify. This is a very convenient way to get the administration out of a very very difficult situation,” Mr. Giuliani said.
“But this is inevitable. This is like Watergate. This is all going to come out. It may take a month, it may take five months. But this is all going to come out. And every single new coverup they do just makes it much much worse.”
Gen. Petraeus and other intelligence officials had been scheduled to appear before closed-door sessions of the House and Senate intelligence committees on Thursday to answer questions about the administration’s handling of the Sept. 11 terror attack in Benghazi.
Mr. King, like many Republicans this week, said he has unanswered questions about the timing of the resignation.
“I have a hard time accepting the whole story,” the New York congressman said Saturday on MSNBC.
The general, 60, carried on the affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, a reserve Army officer, according to the Associated Press. The FBI discovered the relationship by monitoring Mr. Petraeus’ emails, after being alerted Ms. Broadwell may have had access to his personal email account.
Mr. King and other Republicans joined Democrats in praising the general’s service to the country.
In a statement from the White House, President Obama said Mr. Petraeus, who took over as CIA director in September 2011, had provided “extraordinary service to the United States for decades” and had given a lifetime of service that “made our country safer and stronger.”
The general, considered one of the nation’s smartest and most capable military men, is credited with salvaging the Iraq war.
“His inspirational leadership and his genius were directly responsible – after years of failure – for the success of the surge in Iraq,” Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, said Friday.