AG Holder defends FBI on investigation of Petraeus affair

Attorney General Eric Holder defended the FBI's decision not to release information about former CIA Director David Petraeus’s extramarital affair sooner, saying the investigation turned up no threat to national security.

Holder said if the federal probe had found evidence of a national security threat, he would have contacted the White House and members of Congress. He was made aware of the affair in late summer. 

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“We made the determination as we were going through the matter that there was not a threat to national security,” Holder told reporters in New Orleans in an unrelated press conference about the BP oil spill. “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.”

Holder — the head of the Justice Department, which oversees the FBI — said the FBI only came forward with the information after key interviews.

“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.

On the week of Oct. 29, a week before the White House was told of the affair, the FBI interviewed Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, for a second time.

Members of Congress — including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) — have questioned the timing of the release, which came after the presidential election and months after the department found out about it. Members of Congress were notified last Friday, the day Petraus resigned.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was informed about the situation on Election Day, with President Obama being told Thursday.

Obama reserved judgment at a news conference Wednesday but said that he had faith that the FBI followed protocol. He said if the FBI would have notified the White House sooner, the president would have been accused of meddling in an investigation.

“And so my expectation is — is that they followed protocols that they already established,” Obama told reporters Wednesday.