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Jay Carney: It's a 'simple fact' the White House wasn't informed about the Petraeus mess until the day after the election

By Doug Powers  •  November 13, 2012 10:55 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Semi-hypothetical scenario: You’re the US president during a heated election race, and the director of the intelligence agency investigating a terrorist attack in a foreign country that killed an ambassador and three others is found to have been carrying on an affair. That affair involves an email trail leading to other people which could result in nasty national security implications and carry with it fatal political consequences. Wouldn’t you be pissed if you weren’t told about it?

According to Jay Carney, nobody at the White House was aware of the Petraeus investigation until last Wednesday because hey, that’s protocol:

The White House insisted Tuesday that it was not aware of the David Petraeus scandal until last Wednesday, blaming FBI “protocols” for not being informed earlier.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama was “surprised” when he learned last Thursday that Petraeus had carried on an extramarital affair. While the FBI had at that point already been investigating for months, Carney said “protocols” at the agency apparently kept them from notifying Congress and other agencies in the Executive Branch.

In the latest shoe to drop, the FBI on Sunday forwarded to the Pentagon a case involving thousands of “potentially inappropriate” emails between one of the women linked to the scandal and Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

The White House did not know about any of this, Carney said.

“It is simply a fact that the White House was not aware of the situation regarding General Petraeus until Wednesday and the situation regarding General Allen until Friday,” Carney said.

Convenient timing is a hallmark of this administration — but at least Carney didn’t blame the Petraeus/Broadwell affair on the fact that the film Same Time, Next Year had stirred up anti-marital fidelity sentiment in the corridors of power in DC.

It’s not like at least one of Obama’s cabinet members weren’t aware:

Attorney General Eric Holder, however, was looped in on the Petraeus situation in late summer, Fox News has learned. Some lawmakers say Holder should have notified the White House — and certainly should have notified Congress — but others have pointed to FBI “protocol” to argue that was not warranted.

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.

Still, the timing of the notification was curious. The Justice Department reportedly told Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the probe on Election Day. Clapper told the White House the following day, and Obama learned the day after that, according to administration officials.

If Holder kept this big news to himself, President Obama isn’t too upset about it, because Holder’s been asked to stick around for the second term.

Michael Mukasey, Holder’s predecessor under George W. Bush, on CNN:

“I think there was a protocol in place, about who could talk to the White House, the Attorney General was definitely one of the two people who could under any circumstance, and the deputy Attorney General was another,” said the man who himself served as Attorney General under George W. Bush.

“You don’t have to wait until an investigation is over and concluded before it has implications for national security as this one did. To have a C.I.A. director under investigation, and knowing about it, is something that I think in and of itself, would have made it necessary to notify the White House, i.e. the President.”

Mukasey was asked if he believed nobody in the White House knew about the Petraeus investigation before last Wednesday: “One word answer: No”:

Closing note: Charles Krauthammer thinks the White House held Petraeus’s affair over his head for favorable testimony on Benghazi.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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