Ayotte: ‘Outrageous’ That Holder Knew of Petraeus Affair for Months Before Obama Was Informed

By Elizabeth Harrington | November 14, 2012 | 1:40 PM EST

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said it was “outrageous” that Attorney General Eric Holder knew Gen. David Petraeus was having an affair and did not alert President Barack Obama or Congress, saying it “calls into question whether Holder was playing politics.”

The extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell led Petraeus to resign his position as CIA Director last Friday, after the White House was first informed of the affair on Nov. 7, the day after Election Day.  The FBI, however, had notified Holder of the affair during the late summer.

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At a press conference on Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com asked Sen. Ayotte about the emerging timeline of events on the Petraeus affair:

“The AP is reporting that the FBI learned of the affair in the summer and then by late summer had notified Attorney General Eric Holder about the investigation.  If Holder new that Petraeus was having an affair and did not inform the president or the congressional intelligence committees, should he resign?”

Ayotte said, “Well, first of all, I think that is a serious shortcoming and I want to understand more about the circumstances of that. But it really calls into question the fact that he had that information and did not inform—think about the Senate Intelligence Chair Diane Feinstein was not informed,” Ayotte said.  “I think that’s outrageous.”

“I also think it’s outrageous that those members in Congress, those congressional committees weren’t informed,” she said.

Attorney General Eric Holder. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“And in any organization to have that level of allegation raised, then not bring it up to the Commander in Chief to let him make the decision as to the nature of it and whether it jeopardized his leadership of such an important part of our government, I do think it’s outrageous,” Ayotte added.

“And I think it really calls into question whether Eric Holder was playing politics with this,” she said.

According to the AP’s  timeline of the affair, Holder had knowledge of the situation in the summer while President Obama apparently did not learn of the affair until Nov. 8, two days after the election.

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

In “late summer 2012,” the AP stated, “Attorney General Eric Holder is notified.”

“By this time, the FBI has long since concluded there was no national security breach, but continues investigating whether Petraeus had any role in the harassing emails sent to [Jill] Kelley.”

According to the timeline, Holder’s Justice Department informed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of the investigation on Election Day, prompting Clapper to call Petraeus immediately and urge him to resign.

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