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 Barack Obama alluded to lingering questions about the course of the inquiry.
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 U.S. 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 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 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.