Eric Holder is defending his decision (or alleged decision) not to inform President Obama of the investigation the FBI was conducting of General Petraeus. Holder says that his department conducted the investigation “the way it normally conduct[s] a criminal investigation.” Normally, the Justice Department does not share the facts of ongoing investigations outside the FBI.
Holder added that the Justice Department concluded that the facts it was investigating did not involve a threat to national security. Given that conclusion, he said, there was no need to advise anyone outside the department until the investigation was concluded.
As usual, Holder’s excuse comes up short. First, the investigation of Jill Kelley’s harassment complaint ceased being a normal criminal investigation as soon as it uncovered the fact that the Director of the CIA had an extra-marital affair.
In fact, as to Petraeus, the investigation wasn’t really a criminal investigation. No one suggests that Holder should have told Obama that Paula Broadwell was being investigated for harassing Jill Kelley. The claim is that Holder should have told Obama that his DCIA had (or likely had) an extra-marital affair.
Second, Holder’s alleged conclusion that DOJ’s investigation did not involve a threat to national security was unreasonable and, in any case, irrelevant. The CIA itself is now conducting an investigation, launched by its Inspector General, of Petraeus’ conduct. According to the Washington Post, quoting the agency, the investigation will encompass the question of whether the General’s transgressions created a security risk.
Holder’s expertise in national security risks is vastly inferior to the CIA’s. If the CIA needs at this juncture to investigate whether Petraeus’ conduct created such a risk, then Holder had no business concluding at the outset (if he did) that no such risk existed.
But even if Petraeus’ conduct created no security risk, it certainly presented the prospect that the General would not be a viable CIA Director. That, of course, turned out to be the case — as soon as the election was over, Petraeus was out the door. Obama certainly had a right to know that his CIA director was, or might be, no longer viable.
If Holder really did not inform Obama of the DOJ investigation into the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley matter, then he clearly failed to do his duty.
How many more significant failures will Holder be allowed before Obama replaces him with (one hopes) a competent, honest Attorney General?
JOHN adds: I’m pretty sure Obama doesn’t want a competent, honest Attorney General.