Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz told The Daily Caller major questions have yet to be answered about the sex scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus – and that congressional investigators plan to get answers.
“What we don’t know is whether those [emails] given [to FBI and DOJ officials] voluntarily, or if they went and got some sort of subpoena,” Chaffetz, a member of the House judiciary and oversight committees, said in a phone interview. “Either way would allow them access to that information.”
When asked if he thinks the FBI illegally hacked certain email accounts in the course of its investigation, Chaffetz said he thinks that’s “a legitimate question that is yet unanswered.”
“Were they given voluntarily? Was there a subpoena involved? The FBI is not going to get engaged in this, if this is simply some female upset at another female,” Chaffetz told TheDC.
“There needs to be something more to it. That’s why there are such big question marks at this point. I think it’ll play out in due time. We’re going to ask tough questions in the oversight committee and judiciary committee — and we’ll see. But we need a little bit of time for this play out.”
Chaffetz, a right-hand man of House oversight committee chairman Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, also said he suspects the White House is playing politics.
“I think the timing is suspicious, as to when this all came to light,” Chaffetz said. “That didn’t seem right.”
The Utah congressman said he finds it hard to believe the president really wasn’t aware of the apparent investigation into Petraeus’ behavior until after the election, as the White House claims.
“It would disturb me if there was anything involving the CIA director that didn’t go immediately to the president of the United States,” Chaffetz said. “This rises to the level of national concern, that the president should have been personally engaged in this. It’s not as if Gen. Petraeus was the head of Fish and Wildlife. He was the head of the CIA, for goodness sakes.”
“So, I do not understand why the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees were not briefed, nor do I understand why they wouldn’t share that information immediately with the president of the United States,” he added. “For the White House to claim the first they heard about it was after the election seems implausible.”
Chaffetz told TheDC he suspects the Petraeus sex scandal and the questions surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi are connected.
“What I hope to understand is how they [Petraeus’ scandal and the Benghazi scandal] overlap,” he said. “The CIA director’s perspective on the Benghazi scandal is paramount. I still think he should testify sooner rather than later. There is a strong intersection. I just can’t fully define it yet.”
Chaffetz said he was “absolutely” troubled that information about private emails between numerous individuals — including Petraeus’ biographer, Paula Broadwell, and Petraeus family friend Jill Kelley — have been leaked, potentially harming their reputations irreparably. (RELATED: Kelley calls 911, asks for ‘diplomatic protection’ to keep people off her lawn)
The Obama administration has been investigated for leaking politically convenient information to the press in the past, leading Chaffetz to suspect that the Justice Department may not have properly handled this case.
“On the one hand – specific to Libya – the administration said they wouldn’t release any information until an investigation is conducted. But, then, for their own political convenience, they have personally given out tidbits of information without the American public being able to see the full picture,” Chaffetz said.
“Go to the State Department website for instance – they put up briefings there [that] they have given to the media. They don’t even identify who from the State Department spoke – it’s just, ‘State Department spokesman number one, State Department spokesman number two.’ How does the media stand for that? But then they put it up on the official State Department website, so you got to believe they think it’s accurate.”
“It’s obvious they’ve put politics before transparency.”