The departure in disgrace of one of the administration’s most respected and prominent figures came as President Obama is reorganizing his national security team for a second term. Petraeus was to have been a primary witness this week at a series of closed-door congressional hearings on possible intelligence and security lapses surrounding the September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Sunday that news of Petraeus’s resignation was “like a lightning bolt” and that top lawmakers had not been aware the inquiry was underway.
Her first inkling, Feinstein said on “Fox News Sunday,” came from media inquiries Friday, just hours before Petraeus’s resignation was announced publicly. She called Petraeus, she said, and he told her of his plans.
“This is something that could have had an effect on national security,” Feinstein said. “I think we should have been told.” She said the panel will “absolutely” investigate why the FBI did not notify relevant officials sooner.
Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said: “It just doesn’t add up that you have this type of investigation. The FBI is investigating e-mails, the e-mails leading to the CIA director, taking four months to find out that the CIA director was involved.”
“I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analyzed to see what happened,” King said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The FBI investigation began after Kelley visited the bureau’s Tampa office in early summer and provided investigators with harshly worded e-mails accusing her of seeking an intimate relationship with Petraeus. Kelley, who is married to a Tampa surgeon, met the general when he was head of the Tampa-based U.S. Central Command, from 2008 to 2010. A military official said she was an unpaid volunteer at MacDill Air Force Base, where the headquarters are located.
Petraeus and his wife, Holly, socialized with Kelley and her husband. A photograph in the local newspaper showed the two couples together at a 2010 party at the Kelleys’ six-bedroom waterfront home. Other photos on social-media sites showed Petraeus with the Kelleys’ three daughters and the couples at a going-away party for Petraeus in June 2010 as he headed to Afghanistan to command U.S. and international forces there.
Federal law enforcement officials said they did not know the nature of the relationship between Kelley and Petraeus other than that they were social friends. The officials were not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity.