Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Tuesday it was “hard to believe” White House claims that President Obama knew nothing about the investigation that uncovered former CIA Director David Petraeus’s extramarital affair before last Tuesday’s election.
King was asked directly on CNN if he took Obama at his word that he didn’t find out about the affair and investigation until after the election.
“It’s hard to believe,” King said.
Senior Justice Department (DOJ) and FBI officials were aware as early as this summer that then-Director Petraeus was having an extramarital affair and that there were concerns national security might have been compromised.
The White House has said it was notified on Wednesday night that Petraeus might resign over an affair and that Obama was told Thursday morning.
King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and other lawmakers said they first learned about the matter on Friday, when Petraeus announced that he would resign from the CIA, citing the affair.
“If [Obama] was told and did nothing about it, that reflects on him,” King continued. “If he wasn’t told then that reflects on the people who should have told him, the FBI and Attorney General [Eric Holder]. And certainly the White House, if they were told about it they should have told the president, but until then, we have to take the president at his word.”
King’s remarks come as lawmakers have raised questions about why they or Obama were not informed sooner that the nation’s top intelligence officer was being investigated by the FBI.
Some have argued that ongoing FBI investigations should be sealed off from the White House to avoid the possibility of politicizing them, but King argued the Petraeus case was so critical it should have been brought to the president’s attention immediately.
“To me, someone in as key a role as Gen. Petraeus was, once the FBI realized that he was in the scope of their investigation, they had the absolute obligation I believe to tell the president,” he continued. “Because Gen. Petraeus was representing the president on so many key matters around the world. In personal talks, negotiations with leaders around the world and being in such a sensitive position where he could’ve been comprised, the president should’ve been told.”