The Washington Post

Eric Cantor and the Petraeus affair

On October 27, Cantor learned from an FBI employee that an investigation had discovered CIA Director David Petraeus was having an extramarital affair. Cantor did nothing about that information, except to ask his chief of staff, Steve Strombres, to inform FBI Director Robert Mueller, according to ABC News. Four days later, October 31, Strombres notified Mueller. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner and House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) — two key House members with a need to know — were left in the dark by Cantor.

King (no relation), who learned about the Petraeus affair after Election Day along with the rest of the world, has gone ballistic. “This, I believe, is a crisis of major proportions,” he said.

That, I believe, is a bit over the top. The investigation established that Petraeus — and thus national security — was not compromised. His loyalty is not in question. His suitablity as CIA director is another matter, and certainly an issue that Congress and president should have been able consider as soon as the question emerged.

Rep. King wants to know why the FBI didn’t alert him, or the president, or the National Security Council -- somebody, anybody. But somebody did know. King’s own party leader in the House. Why didn’t Cantor raise the alarm? The majority leader needs to step up to the mic.

Colbert I. “Colby” King writes a column -- sometimes about D.C., sometimes about politics -- on that runs on Saturdays. In 2003, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007.


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