WASHINGTON – Members of Congress said Sunday they want to know more details about the FBI investigation that revealed an extramarital affair between ex-CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer, questioning when the retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they weren’t told sooner.
“We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt,” said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who heads the Senate intelligence committee.
The FBI was investigating harassing emails sent by Petraeus biographer and girlfriend Paula Broadwell to a second woman. That probe of Broadwell’s emails revealed the affair between Broadwell and Petraeus. The FBI contacted Petraeus and other intelligence officials, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked Petraeus to resign.
A senior U.S. military official identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military’s Central Command and Special Operations Command are located.
Staffers for Petraeus said Kelley and her husband were regular guests at events he held at Central Command headquarters.
In a statement Sunday evening, Kelley and her husband, Scott, said: “We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”
A U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, said Kelley had received harassing emails from Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Petraeus.
A former associate of Petraeus confirmed the target of the emails was Kelley, but said there was no affair between the two, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the retired general’s private life.
Petraeus resigned while lawmakers still had questions about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA base in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Lawmakers said it’s possible that Petraeus will still be asked to appear on Capitol Hill to testify about what he knew about the U.S. response to that incident.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the circumstances of the FBI probe smacked of a cover-up by the White House.
“It seems this (the investigation) has been going on for several months and, yet, now it appears that they’re saying that the FBI didn’t realize until Election Day that General Petraeus was involved. It just doesn’t add up,” said King, R-N.Y.
Petraeus, 60, quit Friday after acknowledging an extramarital relationship. He has been married 38 years to Holly Petraeus, with whom he has two grown childrent.
Petraeus’ affair with Broadwell, 40, will be the subject of meetings Wednesday involving congressional intelligence committee leaders, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and CIA deputy director Michael Morell.
Petraeus had been scheduled to appear before the committees on Thursday to testify on the attack in Benghazi. Republicans and some Democrats have questioned the U.S. response and protection of diplomats stationed overseas.
Morell was expected to testify in place of Petraeus, and lawmakers said he should have the answers to their questions. But Feinstein and others didn’t rule out the possibility that Congress will compel Petraeus to testify about Benghazi at a later date, even though he’s relinquished his job.
“I don’t see how in the world you can find out what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the attack if General Petraeus doesn’t testify,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Graham, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants to create a joint congressional committee to investigate the U.S. response to that attack.
Feinstein said she first learned of Petraeus’ affair from the media late last week, and confirmed it in a phone call Friday with Petraeus. She eventually was briefed by the FBI and said so far there was no indication that national security was breached.
Clapper was told by the Justice Department of the Petraeus investigation at about 5 p.m. on Election Day, and then called Petraeus and urged him to resign, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
FBI officials say the committees weren’t informed until Friday, one official said, because the matter started as a criminal investigation into harassing emails sent by Broadwell to another woman.
Concerned that the emails he exchanged with Broadwell raised the possibility of a security breach, the FBI brought the matter up with Petraeus, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.
Petraeus decided to quit, though he was breaking no laws by having an affair, officials said.
King appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Feinstein was on “Fox News Sunday” and Graham spoke on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
There are 19 comments on this story »