President Obama on Wednesday defended the FBI’s handling of the investigation that led to CIA Director Director David Petraeus’s resignation.
Obama was told of the probe — which began over the summer — two days after his reelection victory.
“One of the challenges here is we’re not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations, and that’s been our practice,” Obama said at his first post-election news conference.
Obama also said that if he had been told, it was possible he would have faced questions about why the White House was meddling in the probe.
“It is also possible that had we been told, then you’d be sitting here asking, ‘Why were you interfering in a criminal investigation?’ ” Obama said. “I think it’s best right now for us to just see how this whole process is unfolding.”
Lawmakers have raised questions about the FBI and Justice Department’s decision not to tell the White House about the inquiry into Petraeus or the affair until the day of the election, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was notified. Clapper notified the White House later in the week, and Petraeus resigned on Friday.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) earlier this week said it was hard to believe the timing on when Obama was hold.
Obama said it was important not to “pre-judge” situations involving criminal investigations.
“The FBI has own its own protocols in terms of how they proceed,” Obama said. “I’m going to let [FBI] Director Robert Mueller examine those protocols and make some statements to the public generally.”
Obama also said that he had no evidence that any classified information was disclosed that would have had a negative impact on national security.
Petraeus is now expected to testify on the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, to the Senate Intelligence Committee as early as Friday. Petraeus had joined the administration in initially blaming the attack on a protest-gone-wrong. The administration later acknowledged it was a terrorist attack, and some have raised questions about a connection between Petraeus's story and the scandal that engulfed him.