WASHINGTON – The Justice Department hasn’t made a final decision about whether to prosecute retired Army Gen. David Petraeus for allegedly providing government secrets to his former mistress while he was director of the CIA, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.
“I don’t want to comment on what is an ongoing matter,” Holder said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The determination has yet to be made. And we will just see how things play out before any final decision is made.”
Petraeus, 62, resigned from his Central Intelligence Agency post in November 2012, after his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, became public. He has acknowledged the extramarital affair, which began about two months after he took over as CIA director in 2011 and ended four months before he resigned. He has denied providing Broadwell with classified information.
Holder defended the way the Justice Department has handled the matter, telling CNN on Sunday “we have done this investigation in an appropriate way and an appropriate determination will be” made. He criticized U.S. officials for leaking information about the probe to media outlets.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said prosecutors have expressed frustration that a decision on whether to file criminal charges has yet to be made by Holder, whose tenure as the nation’s top law enforcement official is drawing to a close. Holder in September said he would resign pending confirmation of a replacement.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation found a significant volume of classified information on a personal computer Broadwell used and determined it came from Petraeus, according to one of the U.S. officials.
After FBI agents discovered the classified material, Broadwell’s Defense Department security clearance was revoked, a U.S. military official who was briefed on the case said in 2012.
Petraeus hasn’t responded to a request for comment. His attorney, Robert Barnett, last week declined comment on the investigation.
The extent of the security breach isn’t clear. President Barack Obama said in November 2012 that he’d seen no evidence that classified information was disclosed that “in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.”
Supporters of Petraeus have called on the Justice Department not to indict the former general and others have criticized the length of the probe.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN Sunday morning that she didn’t think Petraeus should be prosecuted.
“This man has suffered enough,” Feinstein said, noting that Petraeus has been publicly chastized and lost his job as CIA director. “He made a mistake. How much do you want to punish somebody?
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, has said he is concerned that the two-year investigation has muzzled Petraeus, whom he called an “American hero,” from offering his opinion on national security matters.
In a letter to Holder last month, McCain urged the Justice Department to make a decision on whether to prosecute the general because the country “cannot afford to have this voice silenced or curtailed by the shadow of a long-running, unresolved investigation marked by leaks from anonymous sources.”
“This matter needs to be brought to resolution,” McCain wrote.
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