President Barack Obama faced allegations of a major political cover-up last night over the resignation of CIA Director General David Petraeus, who had an affair with married Paula Broadwell.
The US Congress is expected to investigate claims that the affair was hushed up to protect Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
It is believed the affair was discovered by the FBI months ago, but not made public until after the election.
The FBI began an investigation in February after discovering the 60-year-old’s computer had been accessed by someone else – believed to be his 40-year-old mistress Paula Broadwell – prompting fears of a major security breach.
This led to the discovery of hundreds of explicit emails including one referring to “sex under a desk”.
A source said last night: “The real question is, what did the President know, and when?”
Frances Townsend, a former senior US government security official and now a member of the CIA Advisory Committee, said: “Whenever the FBI opens an investigation of a senior official they have to make notification of that, especially if there is an intelligence concern. It is hard to believe the White House did not know about this prior to the election.”
White House officials insist Barack Obama did not know of the affair until last Wednesday, the day after the election. He accepted David Petraeus’ resignation on Thursday, and the announcement was made on Friday.
Some have alleged the scandal is a smokescreen to stop David Petraeus testifying before a Senate committee this week into the deaths of the US ambassador and three staff members in September in Benghazi, Libya. The White House has been accused of ignoring repeated warnings of an Al Qaeda terrorist attack on the embassy.
A senior Congressional staffer said last night: “What would he have told us? The resignation is incredibly convenient for the administration. Would he have revealed the CIA knew the Benghazi compound was under threat and Washington did nothing to secure it?”
Members of the House Intelligence Committee may still vote to subpoena David Petraeus and force him to testify.
The source added: “This could be another Watergate situation where it is not the event that brings down the president but the cover-up.”
Paula Broadwell began an affair with David Petraeus, married to his wife Holly for 37 years, when she was with him in Afghanistan in 2010 doing research for her biography, All In: The Education Of General David Petraeus.
She says they “bonded” over push-ups and five-mile runs in the deserts of Afghanistan.
“That was the foundation of our relationship. He goes all in to what he does,” Paula Broadwell said.
David Petraeus led American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq before taking charge of the CIA.