“Petraeus was pretty clear in his intent to resign,” the official said. He “wasn’t looking to be talked out of it.” Friday morning, Obama notified his senior staff, then made two calls, first to Petraeus and then to the man now serving as acting CIA director, Michael J. Morell.
CIA officials declined to discuss how events unfolded inside the agency’s headquarters, but a senior U.S. intelligence official said that “this was a sudden announcement internally as well as externally.”
Petraeus has already stopped duties as director and begun a transition process that will determine, among other things, how much personal security he will keep as a private citizen.
White House and intelligence officials said again Saturday that there was no connection between Petraeus’s resignation and the controversy surrounding the deaths of four Americans in Libya in September.
Still, the timing of Petraeus’s departure, and the apparent decision by the FBI to withhold information about its probe, is already coming under question and criticism from Capitol Hill.
Senior Senate aides said that the Senate intelligence committee did not learn of the matter until Friday, just hours before the Petraeus resignation was announced. Even then, the first word came from news reports, prompting the committee to press the White House and CIA for answers.
By law, agencies are required to notify the committees of significant intelligence developments. Some questioned how a probe that turned up compromising information about the CIA director did not qualify.
“This is a very personal matter, not a matter of intelligence,” the senior U.S. intelligence official said. “There are protocols for this. I would imagine things have to cross a certain threshold before they are reportable.”
Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.