Holder: Petraeus case to be decided at "highest levels" of DOJ

Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday that the decision on whether to bring charges against former CIA Director David Petraeus for passing classified information to his then-girlfriend will be made at "the highest levels of the Justice Department."

Both the FBI and federal prosecutors are recommending that Petraeus be charged with providing classified information to his former mistress, Paula Broadwell, who was writing a biography of the four-star general while the two conducted an affair.

In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Holder declined to share many details of the case, citing the fact that it is an ongoing investigation.

"The determination in any case is made at the time that all of the evidence has been acquired, all of the evidence has been reviewed, when it has been gone over with people who are the subjects of the investigation and with their lawyers and so at the appropriate time, the proper people within the Justice Department will make determinations as to what, if any, action should occur," he said.

Holder announced his resignation in September and is expected to stay on until his predecessor is confirmed. President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to take the job, but she will face a tough confirmation process due to GOP anger over the president's unilateral actions on immigration.

Holder said he did not know about the timing for a decision on prosecuting Petraeus, but he said, "I would expect that to the extent that there is a matter of this magnitude of - that would be decided at the highest levels of the Justice Department."

The attorney general spoke from Paris, where he met with law enforcement counterparts from around the world in the wake of the attack on a satirical French newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, by a group of apparent Islamic extremists. Holder said he was also there to pledge solidarity with the French people, and to promise to do a better job of sharing information amount the nations that participated in the meeting.

The White House announced Sunday that it will convene a conference next month on efforts to counter violent extremism such as the shooting in Paris and earlier attacks in Canada and Australia.

Asked about the potential for smaller attacks in the U.S., Holder said, "I wouldn't say it is greater but I certainly think that the possibility of such attacks exists in the United States. It is something that we worry about all the time. It is something that we meet about all the time. It's something that frankly keeps me up at night. Worrying about the lone wolf or a group of people, a very small group of people, who decide to get arms on their own and do what we saw in France this week."

Holder said the decimation of the core of al Qaeda has reduced or eliminated the possibility of an attack like the one that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, but the group's affiliates have started moving toward smaller attacks.

"They have inspired people negatively around the world to engage in these really small attacks that involve only one or two people - a small number of arms that can have a devastating impact as we have seen in France. We have been in this phase of the fight against terrorism for some time," he said.

He said he believes the U.S. is doing a "good job" at monitoring those who might pose a threat to Americans at home.

"We're not stereotyping anybody but we are focused on those people who we have some reason to believe might engage in these kinds of these activities and I think our FBI, in conjunction with our intelligence community, and in conjunction with our state and local partners, I think we do a good job in keeping abreast of what these people are talking about and potentially what it is that they are planning," he said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.