Obama on Not Being Informed of Affair: ‘We’re Not Supposed to Meddle in Criminal Investigations’

By Elizabeth Harrington | November 14, 2012 | 4:23 PM EST

President Barack Obama gestures as he answers a question during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama referred a question to the FBI when asked if he should have been informed of former CIA Director David Petraeus’s affair prior to the election, adding that “we’re not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations and that’s been our practice.”

In his first official press conference since June, Obama was asked about the affair that the FBI discovered late last spring but did not inform the White House about until last week.

“Do you think that you, as Commander-in-Chief, and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election?” asked a reporter from the Associated Press.

Obama said, “I think you’re going to have to talk to the FBI in terms of what their general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. One of the challenges here is that we’re not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations and that’s been our practice.”

“And I think that there are certain procedures that both the FBI follow or DOJ follow when they’re involved in these investigations, that’s traditionally been how we do things, in part because people are innocent until proven guilty and we want to make sure that we don’t prejudge these kinds of situations,” he said.  “And so my expectation is that they followed protocols that they already established.”

Gen. David Petraeus and his mistress, Paula Broadwell. (AP Photo/ISAF, file)

According to the AP’s timeline of the affair between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, Attorney General Eric Holder had knowledge of the affair in the summer, while President Obama did not learn of the affair until Nov. 8.

Emails between Petraeus and Broadwell led the FBI to believe the two were having an affair in the summer of 2012, according to the AP.  At this point FBI Director Robert Mueller was notified.

Attorney General Eric Holder was then notified in the late summer.  Holder’s Justice Department, however, did not inform Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of the investigation until Election Day, prompting Clapper to call Petraeus and urge him to resign.

The White House apparently was “first notified” of the affair on Nov. 7, though President Obama reportedly was not informed until he returned from Chicago on Nov. 8.  On Friday, Obama met with Petraeus and accepted his resignation.