Petraeus still "essential" to Libya hearings, King says

David Petraeus resigned as CIA director on Nov. 9, 2012 after admitting he had an extramarital affair. CBS News

Former CIA director David Petraeus' resignation Friday amid an extramarital affair has "nothing to do" with his plan to testify on the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya, House Homeland Security chair Peter King, R-N.Y., said, adding that the retired general's testimony is "essential."

"David Petraeus testifying has nothing to do with whether or not he's still the CIA director, and I don't see how the CIA can say he's not going to testify," King said Friday night on CNN. The New York congressman has been dogged in his criticism of President Obama's handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans - including U.S. diplomat Chris Stevens - dead.

If Petraeus does not testify on Thursday, as originally scheduled, King said he hopes "it would be very soon after that."

"He was at the center of this, and he has answers that only he has... He is an a absolutely essential witness, maybe more than anyone else," King said, adding that the final decision is in the hands of Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chair of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Meanwhile, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. - who is not on the Intelligence Committee but has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's initial hesitation to deem the Libya attack an act of terror - told Fox News late Friday that a subpoena may be issued for Petraeus' testimony.

"The fact that he's resigned and had an affair has nothing to do with whether he will be subpoenaed to Congress ," Gowdy said. "I hope we don't have to subpoena a four-star general and former CIA director; I would hope he would come voluntarily. But if he won't, he will be subpoenaed."

Gowdy continued: Petraeus is "either a witness in our case in chief, or he's gonna be a rebuttal witness if [U.S. ambassador to the United Nations] Susan Rice and others blame him for their failure of intelligence and failure of information. But there is no way we can get to the bottom of Benghazi without David Petraeus."

CBS News learned Friday that the FBI has been investigating Petraeus' communications for the past few months, specifically involving emails to and from a female journalist. Additional sources tell CBS News the emails involved his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

Comments