The White House and Congress were kept in the dark about the probes until election night last week. When asked at a news conference whether he should have known sooner that his CIA chief’s personal transgressions had surfaced, Obama said he was “withholding judgment with respect to how the entire process surrounding General Petraeus came up. You know, we don’t have all the information yet.”
Obama’s remarks signaled that the administration is grappling with fundamental questions surrounding an investigation that has implicated the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, blindsided the president and still not determined whether classified material was mishandled.
Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned as CIA director last week after acknowledging an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Both are married.
Obama’s comments coincided with new disclosures that Broadwell had a significant quantity of classified material and that the FBI’s initial concern centered on how an anonymous sender of menacing e-mails knew so much about the official schedules of the CIA director and the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan. The anonymous e-mails eventually were traced to Broadwell.
CNN reported Thursday that Petraeus said in an interview with HLN’s Kyra Phillips that he had never given classified information to Broadwell and that his resignation had nothing to do with his upcoming testimony to Congress on an attack on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans.
According to CNN, “‘He insisted to me that he has never passed classified information to Paula Broadwell,’ Phillips said. ‘He said this has nothing to do with Benghazi, and he wants to testify. He will testify.’”
The messages were sent to Allen and Jill Kelley, a Florida socialite who cultivated close ties to Petraeus, Allen and other high-ranking military officers when they served at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa. Allen is now under investigation by the Defense Department inspector general over the contents of hundreds of e-mails between him and Kelley.
The first message Allen received came in May from a sender using the alias “KelleyPatrol,” according to a person close to Kelley. The message made clear the sender knew that Allen was likely to see Kelley at an upcoming event at the residence of an ambassador in Washington and that he should stay away from her, according to the person.