Published December 23, 2015
Lawmakers and other officials, after getting over the shock of Gen. David Petraeus' sudden resignation Friday, are increasingly coming to at least one consensus -- the former CIA director's personal indiscretions are no reason to prevent him from testifying to Congress about the Libya attack.
Petraeus had originally been set to testify in a pair of closed hearings Thursday before the House and Senate intelligence committees. In the wake of Petraeus' resignation over an extramarital affair, he is no longer expected to appear at that hearing -- Acting Director Mike Morrell will testify instead.
Officials now indicate they may seek Petraeus' testimony regardless, perhaps not this week but in the future.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who served under the George W. Bush administration, told Fox News it's "important" for Petraeus to answer questions on this matter.
"Petraeus will have a personal insight into this because he did visit Libya after the attack. ... I think he owes it to the committees to share those insights with them," Hayden said Monday.
Hayden said Petraeus should have some "personal space" this week, adding it's not "critical" he testify Thursday and voicing some confidence in Morrell's ability to answer lawmakers' questions in the near-term.
But some lawmakers made clear they will aggressively pursue Petraeus' testimony going forward.
"He's going to have to (testify)," Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., told Fox News shortly after the resignation was announced. "There's no way we can get to the bottom of Benghazi without David Petraeus. So while he may not be around next week because he's got personal matters, the week after that and the week after that and the week after that, this excuse will run stale."
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also said there's "no reason" why Petraeus shouldn't still testify.
Petraeus is considered important as part of Congress' examination into Libya for several reasons. One of the buildings that was attacked that night, it was later revealed, was a CIA outpost staffed by CIA personnel. Lawmakers may have questions about what the CIA was doing in Benghazi -- but they also have questions about Petraeus' initial Sept. 14 briefing in which, according to sources, he characterized the attack as more consistent with a flash mob, where the militants showed up spontaneously with RPGs. Lawmakers at the briefing said that Petraeus seemed wedded to the narrative that the attack was linked to a demonstration and was spontaneous as opposed to pre-meditated.
Other administration officials, including Vice President Biden, have indicated that initial claims the attack was spontaneous were based on intelligence at the time.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on "Fox News Sunday" she sees "absolutely" no connection between the director's resignations and the unanswered questions about the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
But she said "we may well" ask to hear from Petraeus himself sometime in the future.
"I think we should have this first hearing ... and then, the committee will make the decision," she said.
The California Democrat told "Fox News Sunday" she found out about Petraeus' resignation Friday as the rest of world learned the news and described being shocked and "heartbroken."
"We will investigate why the committee didn't know," Feinstein said. "We should have been told."
A similar, closed-door House intelligence committee hearing also is scheduled for Thursday. Plus the House Foreign Affairs Committee has set up a hearing.