November 10th, 2012
10:32 AM ET
10 years ago

Rep. King: Petraeus’ resignation doesn’t preclude testimony

(CNN) - Despite his resignation on Friday citing an extramarital affair, former CIA Director David Petraeus should not back out of plans to testify on the recent attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a high-ranking House member said Friday on CNN.

Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King, who is also a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration's handling of the September 11, 2012, attacks in Libya that killed four Americans including diplomat Chris Stevens.

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In September, King, R-New York, called for the resignation of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, describing her characterization of the attack as misleading.

King said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" that Petraeus is "an absolutely essential witness, maybe more than anybody else."

"David Petraeus testifying has nothing to do with whether or not he's still the CIA director, and I don't see how the CIA can say he's not going to testify," King said.

"I think his testimony is certainly valuable, it's certainly necessary," King continued. "He was at the center of this and he has answers that only he has."

If Petraeus does not testify as originally scheduled on Thursday, King said, "It should be very soon after that."

In October, King told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that the Obama administration, at least initially, did “not tell the truth to the American people” about the motivation for the attack and the state of security at the compound.

“I’m saying the administration has not told the truth and they have spread a false narrative,” he said. “Now, are you talking about a criminal cover up? No. But I would say certainly they were concealing or holding back facts that would have undercut their position.”

The agency's acting director, Michael Morell, will testify in Petraeus' place next week, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She did express confusion with the timing.

"What I don't understand is the immediate departure," Feinstein, D-California, told CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. "That's the part I don't get."

Petraeus retired in 2011 as a four-star Army general after leading U.S. and international forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Barack Obama nominated him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, where he became the fifth director in eight years. In a letter to CIA colleagues after Obama accepted his resignation, Petraeus said he exhibited "extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair."

Legislators on both sides of the aisle expressed surprise at Friday's announcement, and King offered praise of Petraeus' work.

"He's a man of extraordinary talent, extraordinary dedication, extraordinarily hardworking," King said. "When he would give his briefings, he would never turn to aides for any assistance, he was there. He knew it inside out. He was a 24/7 person with a really - the old expression, think outside the box, that was David Petraeus.

“I'm sure there's always somebody who can take your place, but I don't see anybody on the horizon who would have the same level of intellect dedication, experience and contacts all over the world," he continued. "This is a real loss for the country, a real loss for the CIA."

- CNN's Susie Xu contributed to this report

Filed under: David Petraeus • New York • Peter King
soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. maf

    I thought that maybe the GOP witch hunt over Benghazi would ease after the election. Romney quit talking about it 3 weeks ago. If there was something there, it would have stuck and played a part in the process. Nothing to see here, move on.
    Much like the GOP over politicizing Fast and Furious! Be careful what you wish for Republicans – more skeletons in your closets than in President Obama's!!
    Next up in the Democrats ground game is finding suitable candidates in all the Red states that House representatives will be up for election in 2014! The sweep is a comin'.

    November 10, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Feinstein, R-California...should be D-California

    November 10, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Rene Janakova

    CNN: Since when was Diane Feinstein, quoted here, a Republican? You have a typo! Or maybe the writer cannot believe a Democrat would reasonably question the coincidental abrupt timing of Petraeus' resignation, just days before he is suppose to testify on Benghazi! Even she smells a rat. Coincidental timing, too, that the FBI was supposedly investigating his emails just before the Benghazi hearings begin. Who directed the FBI to do this? Hmm... who is in charge of the FBI: Eric Holder, Obama's good friend.

    November 10, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  4. Thomas

    Rep. Peter King , The East coast virsion of Darrell Issa needs to deal with reality and facts , and less innuendo and hearsay.

    The facts will be reveiled , and the truth will prevail .
    With King and Issa , they both disregarded the facts in regards to WMDs as the reason for invading Iraq . Yet , when the unfortunate event is such as fast and furious or Libya , they both act as grandstanding GOP Saviours.

    To all our Vets and there families , Happy Veterans Day

    November 10, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. Bill from GA

    I hope that General Petraeus will participate no more than is legally required.

    These republican witch hunts are nothing more than an attempt to find anything the righties can use to embarrass our President.

    While the loss of life in Benghazi is regrettable, Americans die often for their country. To single out these four in this manner is an insult to them, their families, and all other Americans who gave so much for their Country.

    November 10, 2012 11:10 am at 11:10 am |

    @ maf No one is politicizing when people are murdered due to the incompetenc of the Commander-in-Chief. This is still America, and despite the election, this president and the likes of you are not going to bring it down.

    November 10, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |

    National Security, the incompetence of the Commander-in-Chief, the fiscal cliff – these were the issues on the table at the election. The American people chose Obamaphones and women's contraceptives and their six lives. We will all suffer from this ignorance. The exit of Patreaus is just the beginning.

    November 10, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Booseyboo

    @maf, "witch hunt" is an inaccurate term to use. Men were murdered and we should have answers not only to verify whether or not if the information originally told is accurate but to also learn from the mistakes to hope that it will not happen again in the manner in which these murders took place.

    I am not a big Bush/Cheney fan but ironically people want to hold them accountable for "lies" told to the American people and the world but we don't have a need to know about Benghazi and Fast & Furious? Every administration is and should be held accountable for what happens on their watch and that includes the good along with the bad.

    November 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Robert

    Did somebody actually say 'Nothing to see here...move on" in regards to 4 American Patriots losing their lives? They deserve a detailed and factual investigation just as much as any family deserves the truth about a murdered loved one here in the U.S. The easiest way for the Administration to avoid all of this controversy would have been to say...It was a terrorist attack by ______________ Group, linked to Al Qaeda, and we are doing everything we can to bring them to justice, while also investigating why there was inadequate security. We are fixing the problem.

    November 10, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  10. Anonymous

    "These republican witch hunts are nothing more than an attempt to find anything the righties can use to embarrass our President."

    Don't worry. FOX News got them all worked up that their guy Romney would win. Eventually it will catch up to them that President Obama won and can't legally run for a third term. Righties are still on a Obama one term re-election mode. Soon, illegals and other minorities will be their new best friends. Including Barack Obama.

    November 10, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Mr.Jackson

    The Republicans who have something to hide with regard to Benghazi now have the difficult task of trying to quietly sweep it under the rug while the Fox-induced madness they created amongst conservatives keeps demanding answers.

    The deepest flaw in their plan was the unswerving hubris that Romney was going to win the election.

    Now there is no distraction from this story (like a Romney transition). Now the investigation is proceeding.

    Pay close attention to events in Egypt and Libya. Pay close attention to the sanctions enforcement against smugglers who are doing business with Iran.

    I'm still connecting dots with regard to neocon think tanks, corporate "counter-terrorism industry" and British secret agents. I'm sure the guys who have classified info are way ahead of me.

    It's possible King has no idea what is happening. I think that's probably true of most of the GOP.

    November 10, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Stephen in VA

    Somebody needs to 'splain to the Republican head of Homeland Security what the term OPSEC means, specifically in relation to the fact that the President isn't supposed to come out and tell the public everything he knows about an attack.

    November 10, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. Karina

    America has become a petty and mean spirited society .
    No facts ever matter , it is always my party against your party.
    If Americans died while serving their country one at least owes it their family and also to review security and intelligence to have hearings before congress.
    Surely you would expect that if it was a member of your family.
    As for Praeteus , let him testify as required of a public servant.
    However his marital affair , unless it jeopardized his duties or national security , is none of our business , that is between his wife and him.

    November 10, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. NVa Native

    More proof that GOP cares little for country, only the pursuit of power. Where was their concern over the 3000+ lives lost on 911 because they never asked for hearings then, or all the embassy attacks during the Bush years – now hearings then either. Sick bunch of angry old people afraid of their own shadow.....and reality.

    November 10, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. NVa Native

    ...if not – why is this the only terrorist attack out of so many that the GOPs are gnashing their teeth about is the Benghazi incident?
    What makes the loss of these four lives more important to the GOP and their followers than all the other lives lost in the many terrorist attacks over the past thirteen years or so? So many murders but no public Congressional hearings held and no vocal outrage by these same GOP politicians and their media propaganda machines?
    “Why not then and only now” is the question that the American people should be demanding!
    Because the GOP is a writhing mass of spineless opportunists afraid of facts & truth who have no integrity or honor.

    November 10, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Pander Bear

    Well we got clobbered in the election like in 96 but at least we can stage a witch hunt like we did in 97 – The GOP

    November 10, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. steven harnack

    I think that the only people who can legitimately testify about the motivation for the attack would the attackers themselves. Everybody else is just guessing. Quit wasting time on partisan issues, you lost, King.

    November 10, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  18. Facts don't Lie

    ah just what the right wing loves a new conspiracy theory. Let Glenn Beck begin!!

    November 10, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  19. tominma

    King is just trying to get some face time on TV on a non-issue. I think that Americans, given the results of last Tuesday, will see this for waht it is: another attempt to smear Obama now that he won. What is driving all this certainly is NOT just politics!! It's far too insistent, far too shrill, far too insidious! I know the election is barely over but.... do we really need the GOP pulling all this crap every day, every week, every month, every year?? Let's finish the job next time!

    November 10, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. anisraddicalsabbatical

    Look, I might be wrong, but I think Petraeus can be subpoenaed if the investigative committee truly believes his testimony is vital. IF this were some attempt to silence Petraeus or hide something about Benghazi, any legal expert in Obama's administration would've advised having him step down will not prevent a subpoena. This could simply be a case of an older man who got caught dilly-dallying with a younger woman who made him feel special. Oldest story in the book, except this just happened to be the Director of the CIA. As to Benghazi, is anyone alleging the President or anyone in the administration or in our military or CIA actually did something criminal to CAUSE this attack? Is anyone alleging our folks just didn't CARE ENOUGH to try to save our citizens? If you are, you're CRAZY, and if you aren't, leave your political mean-spiritedness out of this. Let the investigation into what went wrong be completed. Support the administration in increasing security at our consulates and learning what we can from the attack so we can prevent things like this in the future. Bolster our President by believing in his ability to make the tough calls so we can hold whomever did this accountable (he DOES have a history of being able to do that...remember Bin Laden?). And PLEASE honor the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens, who've publicly stated they trust that everything that could've been done to save Chris was done, & respect their request that this issue not be politicized. STOP ACTING LIKE YOU CARE SO MUCH ABOUT THE DEATHS OF THESE FOLKS BECAUSE IT'S CLEAR YOU DON'T. You're looking to bring President Obama down, plain and simple. It's this crap that makes me embarrassed to be American sometimes. GROW UP.

    November 10, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Willie Floyd

    What about the funding the president requested to improve security for embassies that the Reps. refused to approve?? Don't hear any mention of that. Surprise, surprise.

    November 10, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. onestarman

    It will be interesting to find out what is in KING'S FBI File

    November 10, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Geordie

    @ NVa Native
    Your comment represents the petty and ill informed and yes , also the uncivil American that we have seen too much of during the campaign.
    Surely you are not stupid enough to compare the 9/11 attack in New York to the attack in Bhengazi.
    Take off your partisan hat and check some facts.
    These brave Americans served their country and of course there should be an inquiry because somebody didn't do their job and then tried to mislead in an attempt to cover up neglect and incompetence.
    This is not a political issue , it is an American and human issue.

    November 10, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Deva

    Why should any persons, let alone those who lately sought the highest position in this this Country, make judgmental statements when asked about David Petraeus. I was shocked to hear Mr. Santorum's response to Piers Morgan. Jesus called such persons as "hypocrites" and "white washed tombs". You need to learn to stop and think before uttering such judgmental statements. Already, Mr. Petraeus is going through enough pain, mentally and psychologically. You don't have to add to his pain. at this time. Remember? Jesus once said to some Scribes and Pharisees who placed before Him a woman caught in the act of adultery, asking him whether she shouldn't be stoned to death. Jesus' response was, "Let any among you who is without sin be the first to cast the stone at her" (John.8:7).

    November 10, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Peace

    What has Peter King done to the nation if not only making noises of Muslims not to build mosques in NY. General P. has done a remarkable service to the nation. Enough of witch hunting!

    November 10, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
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