WASHINGTON – The FBI’s handling of the investigation that forced CIA Director David Petraeus to resign came under new scrutiny Wednesday as FBI Director Robert Mueller faced questions on Capitol Hill and President Obama alluded to lingering questions about the course of the probe.
In his first public comments on the controversy, Obama said he has seen no evidence that the scandal exposed classified information that might harm national security.
But he stopped short of approving the FBI’s handling of the inquiries into the personal email communications of Petraeus and Marine Corps Gen. John Allen.
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 Gen. 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 extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Both are married.
Obama’s comments coincided with new disclosures that Broadwell had classified material and that the FBI’s initial concern centered on how an anonymous sender of menacing emails knew so much about the official schedules of the CIA director and the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan. The anonymous emails eventually were traced to Broadwell.
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 the headquarters for U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.
Allen is now under investigation by the Defense Department inspector general over the contents of hundreds of emails between him and Kelley.
In mid-June, Kelley called an FBI agent she had met and told him about the emails. He took copies to the bureau’s Tampa office because the material showed that the sender had detailed knowledge of the travel schedules of Petraeus and Allen and because Kelley expressed concern for her safety.
The agent was identified Wednesday as Frederick Humphries, 47, who knew Kelley from a visit to her house on an unrelated case years earlier, according to law enforcement officials. Humphries was not assigned to the harassment case, but he later became frustrated over what he thought was a lagging investigation into a possible national security breach.
In late October, Humphries raised his concerns with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Cantor’s chief of staff telephoned the FBI director’s chief of staff.
After Cantor’s call, the Justice Department disclosed the existence of the investigation into Petraeus to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence on Nov. 6. Clapper told the White House the next day, and Petraeus resigned last Friday.
In his news conference, Obama said, I have no evidence at this point from what I’ve seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security. His words appeared to be chosen to not rule out the mishandling of classified files.
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.
AlsoPetraeus keeping appointment on Libya
WASHINGTON – Former CIA Director David Petraeus has agreed to testify to Congress about the Sept. 11 attack in Libya.
The appearance will reportedly take place today. But his visit to Capitol Hill will mark Petraeus’ first time in the public view since he resigned Friday.
He is likely to be asked – both by reporters on his way in and by lawmakers – about any possible intelligence breaches involving his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Law enforcement officials said Broadwell is the woman with whom the retired general has acknowledged having an affair.