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Petraeus Resignation Has Lawmakers Demanding Answers

David Petraeus; photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters

The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus caught Capitol Hill by surprise. Photo by Jim Urquhart/Reuters.

The Morning Line

The sudden resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus last Friday caught nearly all of official Washington by surprise, and that includes lawmakers on Capitol Hill with oversight of intelligence and national security matters.

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, California’s Dianne Feinstein, voiced her displeasure with the lack of advanced notice during an interview Sunday on Fox News.

“It was like a lightning bolt,” Feinstein said. “The way I found out, I came back to Washington, Thursday night, Friday morning, the director told me there were a number of calls from press about this.”

Feinstein said the Senate committee would launch an investigation into why the FBI did not notify her ahead of time. “This is something they — that could have had an effect on national security. I think we should have been told,” she said.


The dissatisfaction with the handling of the situation was just as strong from Republican lawmakers, including New York’s Peter King, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

“It just doesn’t add up,” King told CNN on Sunday. “You have this type of investigation. The FBI investigating e-mails, the e-mails leading to the CIA director, and taking four months to find out that the CIA director was involved. I have real questions about this. I think a timeline has to be looked at and analyzed to see what happened.”

The New York Times’ Scott Shane and Charlie Savage shed some light onto the timeline in their front page story in Monday’s paper:

High-level officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department were notified in the late summer that F.B.I. agents had uncovered what appeared to be an extramarital affair involving the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David H. Petraeus, government officials said Sunday.

But law enforcement officials did not notify anyone outside the F.B.I. or the Justice Department until last week because the investigation was incomplete and initial concerns about possible security breaches, which would demand more immediate action, did not appear to be justified, the officials said.

It turns out that at least two House Republicans knew about the investigation before the White House learned it was underway. An FBI informant first contacted Rep. Dave Reichert’s office. The Washington Republican directed the whistle-blower to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. The Virginia Republican said in a statement Saturday that the informant was “concerned that sensitive, classified information may have been compromised and made certain [FBI] Director [Robert] Mueller was aware of these serious allegations and the potential risk to our national security.”

Democrats over the weekend questioned why Cantor did not go public with the information or talk with President Obama, but House Speaker John Boehner’s office said Sunday they felt Cantor did the right thing by having his chief of staff contact the FBI.

As Congress comes back to town Tuesday, lawmakers are preparing for a series of briefings on the Friday surprise, and it’s possible Petraeus will still testify at a hearing looking at the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser reports that FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce will brief House intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, on Wednesday. Acting CIA director Mike Morrell will meet with them that afternoon.

MARK AND DAVID

On Friday’s NewsHour, Mark Shields and David Brooks gave the final assessment of Election Week and looked forward to the fights ahead in Congress.

David said he finds the left is much more organized and less willing to compromise, which means he thinks, “a lot more Democrats are willing to walk off the cliff.”

“The president does have a real tactical advantage,” Mark said.

They also reacted to the president’s tearful speech at his campaign headquarters, with David saying it was “a very nice moment” for Mr. Obama to be “passing it on” and making the moment about the staffers and volunteers. Mark noted it’s rare to see an emotional president and said he was told that Mr. Obama spent more than an hour at headquarters, going to each and every person with a hug and a handshake.

Watch here or below:


In the Doubleheader, Mark and David chatted with Hari Sreenivasan about Mark’s mad math skills, super PAC returns on investments and the Lakers. Watch here or below.


LINE ITEMS

  • The New York Times’ Jackie Calmes reports Mr. Obama is planning to travel outside the Beltway in hopes of rallying support for his proposal to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on wealthier Americans.

  • Republicans previously cool to immigration reform are starting to sound notes of compromise on the issue, the Los Angeles Times reports.

  • Politico finds Republican women unhappy as the party prepares for leadership races this week to determine prime committee assignments.

  • “We did good things this year,” Karl Rove told Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post.

  • Politico has dual pieces looking at the “media cocoon” the Republicans find themselves in and an explainer on how the GOP was looking at flawed polling.

  • The Hill looks at congressional calls for fixing what caused such long lines on Election Day.

  • GOP Rep. Allen West still looks to be out of his congressional seat in Florida after a partial recount, The Hill reports.

  • The New York Times’ Gail Collins ponders Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s future. Clinton told her she’s looking forward to sleep and having time to watch HGTV.

  • The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs explores the 2016 caucuses and rounds up the inside favorites for both parties.

  • The Washington Post’s Eli Saslow explores the emotions of Mitt Romney’s supporters after the nominee’s loss as a frame for how the right fears it has lost its country.

  • NPR’s Ari Shapiro asks who Romney was, and answers.

  • Digital strategists assess Romney’s online campaign, with Democrats sounding an idealistic note and Republicans saying they were disadvantaged from the get-go, according to the Washington Post’s Rachel Weiner.

  • Need another election post-mortem? Buzzfeed gets Jim Messina’s and Brian Jones’ final thoughts. And Politico lays to rest Project Orca.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

TOP TWEETS

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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