The whirlwind of bizarre, troubling, confusing and seemingly never-ending details surrounding Gen. David Petraeus’s affair with biographer Paula Broadwell is apparently nowhere near settling down. On Monday evening, Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was thrown into the scandal, as news of a separate set of “inappropriate communications” with a Florida woman named Jill Kelley came to light (she’s a friend of the Petraeus family and the same woman who originally reported receiving e-mail threats from Broadwell).
Now, new questions are emerging surrounding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s knowledge about the Petraeus scandal, with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton wondering whether the top Justice Department official purposefully withheld information for political reasons. In an appearance on Fox News this morning, Bolton questioned if and to what level politicization might have taken place.
“I think the linchpin — the absolutely central point here is the role of Attorney General Eric Holder,” the former ambassador said. ”[Reports say] he knew of the Petraeus situation in the late summer and yet two months go by and there’s no indication he told the president — no indication he does anything except sit on it.” (You can read about that charge in detail further below.)
Bolton explained that if, indeed, Holder held the information, such an action would clearly be viewed as a politicization of the process. And if the attorney general did tell President Barack Obama and the two decided to conceal the information then that, too, would be considered politicization.
“I think we need to look at Eric Holder in the late summer and ask, what did he do with the information that he had about the potential compromise of the security of the CIA director,” Bolton continued.
Watch his comments, below:
On Monday, Fox News reported that Holder was notified in the late summer about Petraeus’ name coming up in an FBI probe — the same investigation that inevitably exposed his affair with Broadwell. While the White House maintains that the president did not learn about the scandal until last Thursday, if Holder knew the information for months, many, like Bolton, are questioning why the president was not informed. Fox News continues:
According to the administration’s version of events, the president did not find out about the situation until last Thursday. At the time that Holder was notified, months earlier, many details were still unknown. Petraeus himself was not interviewed until the fall. And according to one source, it is long-standing FBI policy for the FBI not to brief Congress or the White House in the middle of a criminal probe that does not involve a security threat.
However, several lawmakers and other officials say the mere fact that Petraeus was flagged in an investigation should have been reason enough to kick the issue up from the Justice Department to the White House. [...]
The law states that intelligence officials “shall” notify the congressional intelligence committees of “all intelligence activities.” It could be argued that this didn’t rise to such a level, technically. After all, Fox News confirms that when mistress Paula Broadwell’s second and final interview with the FBI was conducted the Friday before the election, they were able to formally conclude no crimes had been committed. While some classified documents were found on her computer, there was no information indicating Petraeus was the source.
With members of both political parties seeking answers, it’s likely this issue is far from over. Intense scrutiny, especially in the wake of a highly-politicized presidential election and ongoing furor surrounding the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, is certainly on the table.