Skip to main content

Spokesman: House majority leader knew of Petraeus matter in October

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 11:06 AM EST, Mon November 12, 2012
  • Spokesman: Eric Cantor spoke with an FBI official about the matter in October
  • Petraeus resigned Friday, citing an extramarital affair
  • An FBI investigation into e-mails from Petraeus' biographer uncovered the affair
  • The former CIA director was scheduled to testify in a hearing on the Benghazi attack

(CNN) -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor knew in October about former CIA Director David Petraeus' involvement in an extramarital affair, a spokesman for the congressman told CNN on Sunday.

Doug Heye said Cantor, a Republican, was tipped to the information by an FBI employee. The congressman had a conversation with the official, described as a whistle-blower, about the affair and national security concerns involved in the matter, he said.

The New York Times reported Saturday that on October 31, Cantor's chief of staff phoned the FBI to inform the agency about the call between the congressman and the FBI official. The Times reported that Cantor learned of the whistle-blower through Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Washington.

Opinion: Petraeus' other seduction

A spokeswoman for Reichert told CNN on Sunday that the Times article was accurate but that the congressman had no further comment on his involvement in the case.

Who is Paula Broadwell?
Baer: 'There is something going on here'
Washington shocked by departure
Petraeus resigns from CIA post

Petraeus resigned from the CIA on Friday after acknowledging the affair. He told Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about the situation on November 6, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official. Clapper then advised Petraeus to resign, the official said.

Petraeus' affair came to light when an FBI investigation looked into a complaint that his biographer, Paula Broadwell, was sending harassing e-mails to another woman close to the retired four-star general, a U.S. official told CNN on Saturday.

During the investigation, other communications surfaced between Petraeus and Broadwell, a married mother of two, according to the official.

A U.S. official said Sunday that Petraeus used a personal account to e-mail Broadwell and not his CIA account.

CNN has not been able to reach Broadwell for comment.

The official did not identify the woman who made the initial complaint and did not know the nature of her relationship with Petraeus.

Official: Woman complained of harassing e-mails from Petraeus' biographer

The FBI interviewed Petraeus, said the official, who stressed that the CIA director was never the target of the investigation and his communications were never compromised. The official did not know whether Broadwell was interviewed.

The official could not say if the investigation is still ongoing. The Times reported that the investigation had already begun by the time Cantor talked with the whistle-blower.

Questions have arisen about why congressional leaders were not informed of the investigation immediately.

According to a congressional aide familiar with the matter, the House and Senate intelligence committees weren't informed that there was an FBI investigation into the situation until Friday.

"The committees are required to be kept informed of significant intelligence activities," the aide said Saturday. "If there was an official investigation that was looking, at least in part, at information that was compromising the CIA director, then I think there's a solid argument to say that the committee leadership should have been notified to at least some level of detail."

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

Petraeus' resignation comes days before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The attack, in which four Americans were killed, became a point of contention during the presidential campaign.

Some have even suggested that the timing of Petraeus' stepping down is suspect, given the expected grilling in Congress. Acting CIA Director Michael Morell will testify instead.

CNN has confirmed that Petraeus was in Libya recently to meet with the CIA station chief to discuss the Benghazi attack and other issues.

"It just doesn't add up," Rep. Peter King, R-New York, told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley 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."

King: Petraeus story 'just doesn't add up'

A senior U.S. official said Petraeus' departure wasn't connected to the Benghazi hearing.

"Director Petraeus' frank and forthright letter of resignation stands on its own," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic. "Any suggestion that his departure has anything to do with criticism about Benghazi is completely baseless."

Broadwell spent a year with Petraeus in Afghanistan interviewing him for the book she co-wrote, "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus."

His resignation Friday appeared to be an abrupt end to a spectacularly successful career in public service.

"After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," Petraeus said in a letter to colleagues, explaining his decision to step down.

Opinion: How Petraeus changed the U.S. military

Before his nomination as CIA director, Petraeus was considered the nation's most well-known and popular military leader since Colin Powell.

He helped turn the tide against insurgents while commanding forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and literally wrote the book on counterinsurgency techniques by overseeing the development of the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual.

Earning praise from both sides of the political aisle, the retired four-star general took the helm of the CIA in September 2011.

Petraeus, 60, and his wife, Holly, live in Virginia. They have two adult children.

Petraeus letter: I showed extremely poor judgment

CNN's Pam Benson, Kate Bolduan, Carol Cratty, Terry Frieden, Suzanne Kelly and Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
CIA boss resigns
updated 7:58 PM EST, Wed November 14, 2012
The convoluted scandal has become an endless source of speculation. There is much we don't know, but a few important facts have emerged.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Thu November 15, 2012
The affair that led to the resignation of CIA Director had its roots in a multi-year friendship, a flattering book and a young writer.
updated 1:40 PM EST, Tue November 13, 2012
Learn about the key players in the unfolding Petraeus scandal through our photo gallery.
updated 4:04 PM EST, Thu November 15, 2012
Since the infidelity scandal that took down the CIA chief David Petraeus broke last Friday, a scattered timeline of bizarre events have captivated, if not confused, the public.
updated 2:17 PM EST, Thu November 15, 2012
It seems like everybody loves a good scandal except the people involved in it. How must it feel to be Jill Kelley, hearing stories everywhere?
updated 8:02 PM EST, Mon November 12, 2012
About four years ago, Paula Broadwell began her Ph.D. dissertation on Gen. David Petraeus' innovative leadership skills.
updated 9:25 AM EST, Wed November 14, 2012
A story told about Marine Gen. John Allen while commanding troops in Iraq describes his ability to inspire the loyalty.
updated 9:34 AM EST, Wed November 14, 2012
Unlike many stories about powerful Washington figures having secret affairs, the downfall of spy chief David Petraeus goes beyond sex.
As a commissioned officer in the military reserves, Paula Broadwell's security clearance would be "secret" or "top secret," allowing her access to classified documents.
Former CIA Director David Petraeus' wife has built impressive reputation of her own.
updated 12:08 PM EST, Sun November 11, 2012
Historians will likely judge David Petraeus to be the most effective American military commander since Eisenhower.