But Allen is now the focus of an investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general, based on thousands of pages of transcripts of e-mail, many between Allen and Kelley, that were turned over to the Pentagon by the FBI. His military lawyer said Wednesday that Allen intends to cooperate fully with the inquiry.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday that officials at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa have revoked Kelley’s badge, which granted her the same access as relatives of service members and retirees.
Kelley had created an unofficial role as a prominent social figure at MacDill, throwing lavish parties for high-ranking officers and forging close ties to the Petraeus family.
At his news conference, Obama praised Petraeus for his record as a war commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as director of the CIA, a job he held for 14 months before stepping down on Friday.
Petraeus “served this country with great distinction,” Obama said. “My main hope right now is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.”
Obama also said that he has “a lot of confidence generally in the FBI,” even while stopping short of voicing approval for its handling of the Petraeus investigation.
Mueller and FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce appeared in a closed session on Wednesday before the Senate intelligence committee, facing questions for the first time from lawmakers on key points in the Petraeus case that have become sources of controversy.
Among them are the FBI’s decision to expand what began as a low-level inquiry into alleged
e-mail harassment involving private citizens, leading to sustained scrutiny of the private communications of top national security officials. Even after Petraeus and Allen had become ensnared in the investigation, the FBI appears to have waited months before notifying the White House or Congress.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the committee, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the ranking Republican, issued a statement after the session saying that Mueller and Joyce “answered our questions.” They added: “Because this is an ongoing FBI investigation, we will have no further comment.”
The FBI is preparing a timeline for lawmakers on its conduct and decisions during the case, officials said
Obama said that his “expectation” is that the FBI followed protocols on when to disclose the findings of the probe and that informing the White House earlier might have invited criticism that the administration had interfered in a criminal investigation.
Kimberly Kindy, Carol D. Leonnig and Julie Tate contributed to this report.