In a face to face confrontation that aired on Sunday, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) called out Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) for using “weasel words” to suggest that President Barack Obama knew about former CIA Director David Petraeus’ sex scandal prior to the November election.
Hutchinson told CNN’s Candy Crowley and a panel of lawmakers that she couldn’t believe that an email threat that Paul Broadwell, Petraeus’ mistress, allegedly made to another woman triggered a low-level FBI investigation that the president would not have known about.
“I’m very worried about this,” she opined. “Did it really trigger an FBI investigation of the CIA director? At a low level? And it wasn’t raised to a higher level? I mean, if anybody is investigating the director of the CIA, the president of the United States should know immediately. And I feel like, A, we don’t know enough and, B, I have great concerns about a lot of this surrounding…”
“Nobody was investigating the director of the CIA,” Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) interrupted. “What they were inquiring into was whether or not somebody had unauthorized access or was taking advantage of access to the director.”
“But at what level were these decisions being made?” Hutchinson insisted. “I just think there needs to be a whole lot more.”
“Are you suggesting that there was some cover up, that the FBI was playing games, Kay?” Frank wondered. “I think we ought to be explicit about this. I’m troubled by the implication of your statement. Are you suggesting that something wasn’t legitimate here? Because that would trouble me.”
“I am suggesting that I have great concerns about the legitimacy of this,” Hutchinson repeated.
“Using ‘great concern’ is kind of a weasel word,” Frank shot back.
“No, I don’t think it’s a weasel word,” Hutchinson replied. “A general in our military and the CIA director, to all of the sudden have this kind of upheaval when it appears that the president didn’t know until two months later? Two months later?”
“It seems to me, frankly, that you’re kind of hinting at something bad and I don’t see what that could be,” Frank pointed out. “I find those kind of implications very troubling. Do you distrust the FBI? Is [FBI Director Robert] Mueller lying? Who are you accusing of not having done the right thing?”
“I tell you what troubles me to some extent, Candy, if this was an investigation into David Petraeus’ bank account instead of his sex life, all of us would be paying a lot less attention to it,” the Massachusetts congressman added. “And I’m troubled by the prurience of some of this. And the prominence it’s getting is — privacy shouldn’t totally disappear.”
Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told reporters that the policy of not sharing facts about ongoing investigations with the White House had been followed because “there was not a threat to national security.”
Watch this video from CNN’s State of the Union via Think Progress, broadcast Nov. 25, 2012.