FBI, CIA officials to brief House committee on Petraeus scandal
President Barack Obama also expected to address the situation in first news conference since his re-election
David Petraeus (left), Paula Broadwell (right) (November 14, 2012)
In the early afternoon, President Barack Obama was likely to address the situation in his first news conference since he was re-elected.
In Congress, some lawmakers in both parties are increasingly concerned that they were not notified sooner of the investigation that led to Petraeus' downfall, as well as potential security breaches.
In calling for a special select committee to investigate the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said he is increasingly concerned about the potential fallout from the Petraeus affair and any national security implications, including ones linked to the Libya attack.
"The goal of this investigation is to have professional staff that hears everyone testify, the same set of senators who hears everyone testify so we can segregate out the weird from the national security," Graham said. "And there is beginning to be a national security component to the human failing that I want to know about."
The closed-door briefings Wednesday, for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, and ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, will consist of a "big-time dive" into issues surrounding Petraeus' resignation and whether Congress should have been notified sooner, a source with knowledge of the meeting said Monday.
FBI Director Robert Mueller joined Deputy Director Sean Joyce and acting CIA Director Mike Morell in briefing the lawmakers.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said Tuesday that she has "many questions about the nature of the FBI investigation, how it was instituted."
"And we'll be asking those questions," she said.
But the committee's ranking Republican member, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, said Wednesday the group will not look into questions about the FBI investigation and how congressional leaders learned about it until after the bureau concludes its work.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Wednesday defended his request to withhold the nomination of Gen. John Allen to become NATO commander pending the investigation into his contacts with Jill Kelley, the woman whose complaints about anonymous, harassing e-mails led to the discovery of Petraeus' affair with Paula Broadwell, his former biographer.
Defense officials announced Tuesday that the FBI had referred information to them indicating Allen may have exchanged potentially inappropriate e-mails with Kelley, who is an unofficial volunteer at MacDill Air Force Base. Allen was once stationed at the base.
Allen has denied wrongdoing, a senior defense official said. Sources familiar with Kelley have said the relationship between the two was not sexual.
"There is no affair," a senior official close to Allen said. "She is a bored rich socialite involved with every single senior commander at CentCom, because she worked as an honorary ambassador."
The move to delay Allen's nomination was "a prudent measure until we can determine what the facts are, and we will," Panetta told reporters Wednesday. "No one should leap to any conclusions."
He said Allen "certainly has my continued confidence to lead our forces," a viewpoint shared by Obama, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.
While the nature of the relationship between Allen and Kelley, if any, is unclear, evidence of an affair could subject the general to military prosecution. Adultery is a violation of military law.
That Allen remains in command in Afghanistan suggests that there is no criminal issue, a U.S. official told CNN. But the official said the Defense Department's inspector general, an agency watchdog, could still find evidence of criminal conduct.