Chaffetz: 'No excuse' for Petraeus not to testify on Benghazi

Will we finally get answers on terror attack?


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 9, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

LIZ CHENEY, GUEST HOST: The director of Central Intelligence, David Petraeus, stepped down today from his post, citing an extra-marital affair as the reason for his departure. In a letter to CIA employees, he wrote, quote, "After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and the leader of an organization such as ours."

General Petraeus, who is one of America's most respected and decorated military leaders, served as the agency's head since April of last year.

And tonight, Fox News has now learned that the woman Petraeus had an affair with is Paula Broadwell. Broadwell wrote a biography on Petraeus, titled "All In." But it is unclear when the affair actually began. Fox has also learned that their relationship was uncovered by the FBI during an investigation unrelated to this matter.

Ms. Broadwell was interviewed on this very program back in March. Take a look.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: I love David Petraeus. How well did you get to know him?

PAULA BROADWELL, AUTHOR: I got to know him pretty well. I spent three years on my research project that started as my dissertation, and it turned into a book when he went to Afghanistan. And I was basically allowed to embed at the headquarters and follow him around and grab some strategic leadership lessons, and that's what hat book is.

HANNITY: Pretty amazing.


CHENEY: The timing of this bombshell announcement is garnering a lot of attention. Of course, we are only a few short days removed from the presidential election. We also happen to be just days away from a series of explosive, closed-door hearings related to the Benghazi coverup. As you can see, Petraeus was among the group of high-level administration officials slated to appear both before the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees. However, Fox News has confirmed that Petraeus will no longer be in attendance next week.

So what impact will this unexpected resignation have on the inquiry into the Benghazi terror attack? Joining me with the answer to that question and more, is someone who has been at the forefront of this investigation, House Oversight Committee member, Congressman Jason Chaffetz. Thank you so much for being here, Congressman.


CHENEY: Let's start with this really jaw-dropping news about General David Petraeus. We have learned today that there was an FBI investigation under way. I think that there are a number of questions raised, including, you know, at what point did the director of the FBI become aware of this? Why was this just announced today? Talk a little bit about your perspective on the implications of this announcement, broadly speaking, on our nation's intelligence efforts as well as on the Benghazi investigation.

CHAFFETZ: Well, first of all, it's a sad fall from grace. I feel for his wife. Nobody should have to go through that. But this is highly suspicious in its timing. It comes days after an election, a very important election. It comes days before he's set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. And it really begs the question of what did the FBI know and when did they know it? How long did they sit on that information? I recall that General Petraeus briefed the Senate about what happened in Benghazi. Did he have this looming over his head? What -- what is the real timing here, Liz? That's the real question that I think going forward is so imperative that we get to the bottom of.

CHENEY: Well, also, and the issue, as well, of whether or not General Petraeus will testify. Now, you know, obviously, he is no longer the director of the CIA. But there is no reason at all, and it would seem to be quite clear that he still got information that would be very important for the committees to have. So what is your sense of that? Will he be called?

CHAFFETZ: He should absolutely, totally testify. There is no reason, no excuse that Mr. Petraeus should not testify before that -- the House Intelligence Committee. It's a closed briefing. He has intimate personal firsthand knowledge. That has not excluded people from testifying previously. He was the person in charge. The annex was attacked. He has been in that position for a year. He should know and understand what was happening in Libya. Absolutely, General Petraeus should testify next week.

CHENEY: Congressman, we also learned today that Secretary of State Clinton has said she will be unavailable next week, when she has been called to testify. Do you anticipate that the committee will try to come up with arrangements to have a new date so that the secretary of state will in fact be able to clear her schedule and testify and let folks know what she knew and when?

CHAFFETZ: There is only so long this administration is going to be able to hide and duck and cover the hard questions. Look, Ambassador Rice, Secretary Clinton, there is a host of people that need to come before Congress and testify about what they knew and when they knew it.

I sent my first letter over to Secretary Clinton on September 20. And they had the gall to send to me a response to that by photocopying -- literally -- photocopying things that are found on the Internet, as that was supposed evidence in answer to my questions.

They have been ducking and covering up -- let me be crystal clear, Liz. This administration is engaged what I believe in one of the biggest coverups we have ever seen in this nation. And normally, the coverup is worse than the crime, but the crime itself, what happened on the day of that event, I think when we get to the bottom of this, this country will not believe what actually happened.

CHENEY: I think you are exactly right. All the evidence here points to the fact that not only did they not provide the security that was requested before the attack, but then we had this seven-hour period of an attack, where they failed to provide any kind of support for the folks on the ground, as well as then afterwards, the continuing misleading of the American people.

You know, part of what is key here, you pointed out before, is the timeline of exactly when did the attack begin and what happened. And I understand that your committee's received in fact different timelines from the key agencies involved in this?

CHAFFETZ: Not official responses, but we got a verbal timeline from the State Department. We have one from the CIA that was printed in the Washington Post, again not given to Congress. And then late today -- of course, late on a Friday, the Department of Defense puts out about a page and-a-half timeline.

Here's the problem I have -- you take one example. The State Department says that the firefight at the annex there in Benghazi started at 4:00 a.m., but the Department of Defense says it started at 5:15 a.m.

Now, it's been nearly two months. They can't even get together and understand. So it is this degree of incompetency that is just stunning at that level. And then to what degree are they covering these things up? Because you look at these documents, they beg more questions. Every day that goes by, I have more questions about what happened truly in Libya. And it is just inexcusable. There is no excuse for it, Liz.

CHENEY: Congressman, there is so much here. And as you said, it is really unprecedented that we had our consulate attacked, that we had our ambassador and three other Americans killed. How will your committee determine what the focus should be? Where exactly are they going to point and direct their efforts? Because in a way, there is so much, you imagine the administration's hoping that people will just be confused by the amount of information that is out there that clearly is misleading and wrong?

CHAFFETZ: Look, at some point, the president of the United States is going to have to make a determination as to what the truth is. Because he has tried to have it both ways. And none of that can be true. It just -- it couldn't possibly be true.

There are three parts to this. What happened in the leadup, and why they didn't get more security? What happened during the attack itself? And who responded, and was the president correct when he said I directed everybody to go in and protect those people in Benghazi? Because I don't think he did.

And then the third part is the coverup itself. How this administration, for literally weeks, was misleading the American people and the world to fit their political agenda. All three of those things, our committee will continue to pursue.

CHENEY: Congressman, I don't want to lose the opportunity to ask you about the upcoming fiscal cliff negotiations. You said today, we've got a quote, you talked about the fact that the president may think he's got a mandate, but the Republicans in the House certainly have one as well. How much do you think you will see compromise going on here? And how much do you think the Republicans will stick to their principles?

CHAFFETZ: I think we were somewhat vindicated when the Bob Woodward book came out. Look, this president is going to have to engage, he's going to have to come back to the reality that House Republicans were also re- elected. And elections have consequences, but we have the majority in the House.

And look, we'll reach our hand out. No one person is going to get everything they want. We understand that. But we will come to the table. But we need the president to come to the table as well, not just with some rhetoric, not running off to Asia, as he's going to do -- all the crises that are going on, and he is going over to Asia. So we are willing to come to the table. We need the president there as well.

CHENEY: Great. Thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

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