James Comey: Obama Admin Went Easy on David Petraeus


Former FBI Director James Comey said Barack Obama's Justice Department should have gone further in prosecuting ex-CIA Director David Petraeus, who resigned amid scandal after giving classified information to a mistress.

Petraeus stepped down from the top job at the CIA in 2012 after allegations surfaced that he gave notebooks full of military and intelligence secrets to Paula Broadwell, the woman who was writing a book about Petraeus and with whom he was having an affair. Petraeus later admitted to the breach.

As part of his own book promotion, Comey, who took the helm of the FBI in 2013, told ABC News he believed he DOJ should have not let Petraeus off in 2015 with a misdemeanor guilty plea for mishandling classified information. From the interview:

JAMES COMEY: Well, the David Petraeus case was, to my mind, not a close case at all. He was the director of the C.I.A. He was having a romantic relationship with a woman who was also an author, going to write a book about him. He had taken home and stored in a backpack notebooks full of notes about some of the government's most sensitive secrets. Classified at the top level in the government, including conversations with President Obama about special access programs, some of our-- our most closely guarded secrets.

And he had given these notebooks to this person who had neither a need to know, nor the appropriate clearance. And he'd actually allowed her to photograph pages containing top secret information. And then, when the F.B.I. interviewed him about it, he lied about it. And so you had clearly intentional misconduct by a guy who's in charge of the country's secrets as the director of the C.I.A., involving huge trove of our top level classified information. And then obstruction of justice.

It was not a close call. In fact, I thought David Petraeus should've been prosecuted not just for the mishandling of the classified information, but also for lying to the F.B.I. because lying is-- strikes at the heart of our rule of law in this country. And in the end, the attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, decided he would be charged only with the misdemeanor mishandling of classified information.

Primary Source: James Comey Interview Transcript (ABC News)

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