The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Attorney General Eric Holder should talk to Congress about what he did or did not tell the president about former CIA Director David Petraeus’s affair before the election.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told Reuters that Holder’s statements last week about the department notifying the president left open room for a different interpretation: Holder could have told Barack Obama in private.
“I’m not sure that the president was not told before Election Day,” Rogers told Reuters. “The attorney general said that the Department of Justice did not notify the president, but we don’t know if the attorney general…(notified him).”
Petraeus resigned as the director of the CIA earlier this month, citing an extramarital affair. It was later revealed the relationship was with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. She had reportedly been sending harassing emails to Jill Kelley, a Florida-based Petraeus family friend.
Some Republicans have questioned whether the probe was kept under wraps until after the Nov. 6 election to avoid damaging the president’s re-election chances.
Last week at a news conference announcing a landmark settlement with BP, Holder defended the department’s handling of the Petraeus probe.
“We made the determination as we were going through the matter that there was not a threat to national security,” he said. “Had we made the determination that a threat to national security existed, we would of course have made that known to the president and also to the appropriate members on the Hill.
“When we got to a point in the investigation that was very late in the investigation, after a very critical interview occurred on the Friday before we made that disclosure, when we got to that point where we thought it was appropriate to share the information, we did so,” Holder said.
Rogers said Holder should come before the House and Senate intelligence committees to clear up any questions.
“We could resolve this very quickly with a conversation in the intelligence spaces if he did have that conversation with the president,” he said. Holder and Obama reportedly have a close personal relationship.
James Garland, Holder’s former deputy chief of staff, reiterated the department’s protocol regarding criminal investigations, according to a report in the Washington Post.
“We want our law enforcement agencies to apply the laws dispassionately and without any political interference,” Garland, now a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, said. “That is why there is this bright line prohibiting the sharing of criminal investigative information with the White House unless it is a threat to national security.”