Share “House leader heard of Petraeus affair Oct. 27”

House leader heard of Petraeus affair Oct. 27

Associated Press Modified: November 12, 2012 at 10:01 pm •  Published: November 12, 2012
Advertisement

Cantor decided after those conversations to call the FBI, but couldn't do so until Wednesday, Oct. 31, because the government was closed due to Superstorm Sandy.

On that Wednesday, Stombres called the FBI chief of staff to relay the information and received a return call from the official the next day. The Cantor aide was told the FBI could not confirm or deny an investigation, but the bureau official assured the leader's office it was acting to protect national security.

Cooper said Cantor's office did not notify anyone else because, "at the time, it was one person making the allegation which, while serious, was completely unsubstantiated. He (Cantor) didn't know this person. He did the only thing he thought appropriate and that he thought was responsible. Two weeks ago, you don't want to start spreading something you can't confirm."

Cantor believed that if the information was accurate and national security was affected, the FBI would — as obligated — inform the congressional intelligence committees and others, including Speaker John Boehner.

Congress will now investigate why the FBI didn't notify lawmakers of its investigation.

But by late October, the FBI had concluded there was no national security breach and was only pursuing a criminal investigation of the harassing emails and whether Petraeus had played any role in them, according to two federal law enforcement officials. They demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing controversy on the record.

In response to criticism from members of Congress that they should have been told about the matter earlier, one of the officials pointed out that long-standing Justice Department policy and practice is not to share information from an ongoing criminal investigation with anyone outside the department, including the White House and Congress.

For a matter to fall in the category of notifying the Hill, national security must be involved. Given the absence of a security breach, it was appropriate not to notify Congress or the White House, this law enforcement official said.