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. Maria Chorizo

    ERIN BURNETT: Our country is safer that your job at CNN.

    How is your negotiating with ROGER AILES going?

    November 10, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Saluki Lady

    Poor's rough to lose isn't it? Scary that we have a President that will actually work for the 98% rather than the 2%.........Oh and of course there are no Republicans in the 47% !!!! I guess they are just too stupid to realize the elite Republicans don't care about them.

    Mr. Bobblehead is gone...............suck it up.

    November 10, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. Akira

    He should be compelled to testify; he was the head of the CIA when Benghazi happened.
    Any knowledge he has didn't miraculously disappear once he resigned.

    November 10, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. Kel(former Marine)

    Looks like another one to fall on the sword to protect Obama. How many more will be sacrificed to protect him. Something really stinks in D.C. Wake up America. Semper Fi

    November 10, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  5. Jean Sartre

    Peter King is just bat crap crazy; he always was and probably always will be!

    As for David Petraeus, I really do not have a problem with him or his extra; that is between him and his wife.

    For America to lose such a gifted public servant over [THIS?] is just insanity!

    November 10, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. tommariner

    Zero chance Petraeus testifies on Thursday. Then endless "Executive Privilege".

    If the abduction and murder of an ambassador was piped live into the same White House situation room in all the "Osama Bin Laden" photo ops, that would not be pleasant for the guy who lives there. Actually, its a non-issue - election's over. But obviously the media spin factory is still up and running.

    November 10, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. Roger Ball

    Are you absolutely sure you want the truth? It might lead you where you really don't want to go.

    Just a few thoughts: Why was the ambassodor in the Benghazi mission on 9/11? Wouldn't it have been safer for both him and his people if he wasn't there that night, especially with news out that the Cairo Embassy was overrun that day, no matter why that Embassy fell? The Ambassador has a great deal of autonomy in country, yet this one choses to be where he himself says there are security problems on 9/11, iInstead of attempting to lower potential risks. Why was the first one out of the safe haven escape the most junior guy there, the CIA agent, not the Ambassador or CFO? Is it women, children and CIA agents first now? The CIA team goes back in several times trying to find the Ambassador, but no luck, then he is found by some local Libyans later. Where? There are a lot more questions concerning security arrangements, Blue Mountain Security, Eclipse Group, The 17th Feb. Militia, and CIA agency relationships in Benghazi. This investigation could be real interesting!

    Some of your heroes may come out a little less heroic after this witch hunt, but I can almost guarrantee to you the President of the United States will seem squeeky clean in the end. And this heavy handed clearly politically bent investigation will probably work against those who demand "answers, now!"

    Have a good time, boys!

    November 10, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. artraveler

    I saw the headline on the main page and knerw that the "rep" in question had to be Peter King, the most partisab of the group on military issues. Will he again load the committee with only people that express his own view and give us another fact-free moment like his buddy Issa does or will he allow facts, not suppositions, to actually come out where appropriate. Too bad he wasn't there to take notes so we would have all the facts the way he wants them, not the way they actually occurred!

    November 10, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. Pete/Ark

    Nothing wrong with asking him to testify ... not as the head of the agency, but as a knowledgeable person ... why is any of this newsworthty?Perhaps we could wait for "if" and "what"?

    November 10, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. artraveler

    Peter King has a record of slanting his hearings, like his BFF Issa, to include only witnesses he feels will give his version of what happens. Many are fact-free zones and hopefully, he will keep his personal hatreds out of the discussions but I doubt that he will be able.

    November 10, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Jim

    Selective accountability is a dangerous game to play, but the GOP want to puff out their chest and make it look like they are doing something. Bottom line, it's a witch hunt. There was an attack on the embassy. They killed 4 people. When are we going to hold the people who dropped the ball on 9/11/2001 accountable? The people who lied about Pat Tillman? Oh, wait, those guys were members of a Republican administration, so they get to get off. Hypocrisy of the worst kind.

    November 10, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. us_1776

    King, the man retired. He's no longer the head of the CIA.

    Go subpoena the new head of the CIA.


    November 10, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Dave Miller

    I swear that Obama or any Dem could gut a baby on stage and the Libs would still find a way to explain it away. Well, bad example since Libs are OK with killing babies....

    November 10, 2012 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. como1

    Only a liberal, not a real American Democrat, could say that the Benghazi inquiry is a witch hunt. Obama and his Administration lost a consulate and had the Ambassador murdered along with 3 US government employees. Then spent the next 2 weeks blaming a video even with the Libyan government naming Al Qaeda. Only a liberal media would ignore the event and its aftermath.

    November 10, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. sjlucas

    Sad to see that Rep. King didn't get the memo from the American people on election night. We're SICK and TIRED of partisan politics in DC. Just because something doesn't fit within your own set of political beliefs, that doesn't mean that there is a conspiracy. Gen. Petraeus got caught with his pants down (literally). That is a tragedy for him and his family. If the man wants to leave public service and concentrate on his personal life, that is his option. For people who have bascially idolized this man for the past decade to now believe that he's being dishonest about his actions at the behest of the White House is laughable. Focus on the economy and putting people back to work. That's why you received an extension of your contract (for 2 more years). If you and your GOP colleagues can't do that, the American people will weed more of you out in 2014.

    November 10, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. rhondajo3

    It seems rather strange that Petraeus is stepping down just days before he is to testify about Benghazi. Me thinks the affair is just an excuse...

    November 10, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. Blandly

    I can't seem to find any reporting regarding why Petraeus isn't or shouldn't testify. I can understand his resignation and think it the correct action, it doesn't however, negate his testifying. Isn't anyone curious about that?

    November 10, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. Susan Owens

    Nixon was re-elected during the Watergate investigation. I don't even want to compare the two of these, but just because President Obama won the election, doesn't mean this doesn't stink to high heaven. It doesn't necessarily mean Obama is responsible. But, we definitely need to investigate what happened. When I go overseas, I want to know I am safe in an Embassy no matter what, let alone the Ambassador!

    November 10, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    Let the conspiracy and paranoia continue to grow. It just makes the republicans look more and more insane.

    There were 17 attacks on embassies/consulates during Bush II, 15 during Clinton, 4 during Bush I, 11 during Reagan. Plus the attack on the Marine Barracks in 1983 under Reagan that killed more than 200 and injured 60 others.Also, his Attack on Grenada was a distraction from investigating the attack on the Marine Barracks in Lebanon which killed 200 Marines.

    This happens. It's terrible, but it happens. Not sure who made the point first, but embassies/consulates have to be secure, yes, but also be open enough to be approachable. It's located in a foreign land, with some aspects of security out of our control.

    There are going to be incidents. You investigate them, you don't jump the gun and make it into political theater. You learn from them and you work to improve conditions and reduce the risk for a next time.

    I'd rather have a president who's winding down wars, keeping us out of new ones and showing a balanced, reasoned approach than another chicken hawk who will make things worse.

    Also worth mentioning is the fact that the Republican House (in the last 18 months) has cut funding for Embassy security around the world by $549 Billion Dollars.

    And nothing was investigated. Shame on the far-right-wing nutjobs wasting our time and money. Move on.

    November 10, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. cucu smith

    This Petraues scandal sound fishy to me... this sounds more like a Bengahzi cover-up

    November 10, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. jesushatesteapartycrhistians

    and can we get a full investigation why 911 happened on w's watch where thousands died?

    November 10, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |

    @ Saluki – this isn't about winning and losing. It's about the transformation of America – you don't get it – or if you do – then you should move to Europe where you can have the government deciding where you should live, how many children you can have, how much money you can make, where you attend university, who your doctor should be, and when you should go to the bathroom. Many of us out here don't want that kind of government in our lives.

    November 10, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. Surfer George

    The only reason to have him testify is to get salacious details and/or to maximize the humiliation and embarrassment of a Democratic appointment.

    By the way, has any Republican EVER demanded the investigation of any REPUBLICAN President (GWB for instance)?

    November 10, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. jvance

    I'm not throwing flaming accusations at anybody but I'd like to hear what this guy has to say.

    November 10, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. Pacific Sun

    I already get it that CNN was in desperate need of another "Breaking News" story since the election. The Petraues scandal is not only fishy but convenient. For the entire Newscycle. First we can be rid of the Romney's crying, said loser faces. They're rating has-beens. And you can only review the Fiscal Cliff so many millions of times in 24hrs. But what surprises me is, this Petraues character didn't just resign to look good. He was "outed" by the FBI investigation and couldn't very well be a model of authenticity in the Obama Cabinet, looking stupid. When will the ultra-intellects, rising to ultimate power realize they're not invincible. The only tragedy here is about the families. I do blame the woman by the way. Men obviously can't keep their pants zipped. But a married woman with the brains she supposedly had, should have had more self-respect for herself and especially for her Country. I would call HER ... The Traitor.

    November 10, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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