The White House on Tuesday said President Obama was “certainly surprised” to learn two days after his reelection that CIA Director David Petraeus was resigning because of an affair.
White House press secretary Jay Carney avoided criticism of the FBI, which unearthed Petraeus’s affair with his biographer over the summer but only told National Intelligence Director James Clapper a day after the presidential election.
The press secretary said he would "certainly not suggest [Obama] is pleased” with the events of this week, but “there are protocols in place” and “they are playing out.”
Obama will continue to support Gen. John Allen as U.S. commander in Afghanistan while Allen is under investigation, Carney said.
He said that the president has “faith” in Allen, who is under investigation after the FBI turned over 20,000-to-30,000 pages of “potentially inappropriate” communications between Allen and Jill Kelley.
Kelley sparked the FBI’s probe into Petraeus after she complained of threatening emails that were reportedly sent to her by Paula Broadwell, the woman involved with Petraeus who was also his biographer.
“He has faith in Gen. Allen, believes he's doing and has done an excellent job at ISAF [International Security Assistance Force],” Carney said at Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
Carney said it is up to Congress to make decisions about whether Petraeus will testify on the Benghazi, Libya, hearings but maintained that the administration had been "transparent" on the events there.
Lawmakers have criticized the administration for blaming the attack on a demonstration-gone-wrong instead of terrorism.
Asked repeatedly about whether the sex scandals would be a distraction as Obama works with Congress to avoid tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in next year, Carney said that Obama “is focused on the work that we have to do right now to help our economy grow and to help our economy create jobs.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said early Tuesday that Allen will remain in his post during a Defense Department Inspector General investigation of the four-star general.
But Allen’s nomination to become NATO Supreme Allied Commander-Europe and chief of U.S. European Command has been put on hold as a result of the investigation.
Allen has denied he did anything inappropriate, according to a senior defense official.