In his first media interview since he resigned, former CIA director David Petraeus told CNN that he had never given classified information to Paula Broadwell and that his resignation had nothing to do with his upcoming testimony to Congress about the attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA base in Benghazi, Libya, that caused the death of four Americans.
He told the network he wanted to testify about the Libya matter. And he'll have that opportunity this morning, when he appears before the House Intelligence Committee. Committee officials planned to limit the subject of that hearing to Libya, ruling out questioning about the affair with Broadwell and any potential national security implications.
Both Petraeus and Broadwell have said she didn't get any classified documents from him. But, according to the Associated Press, the FBI found a substantial number of classified documents on her computer and in her home. Broadwell has told agents that she took classified documents out of secure government buildings. The Army has suspended her security clearance.
Petraeus spoke with CNN reporter Kyra Phillips, who on Thursday described the conversation to Robin Meade on HLN's Morning Express.
"He was very clear that he screwed up terribly — it was all his fault — even that he felt fortunate to have a wife who is far better than he deserves. Obviously he's taking it really hard. He knows he made a big mistake.''
Phillips also said Petraeus and Broadwell have not talked since their affair became public. "They talked a couple of times when he ended this relationship, which was a couple (of) months ago,'' she said. "But they have not talked since the story broke.''
Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday an interview critical to the Petraeus investigation took place the Friday before Election Day and afterward the Justice Department thought it appropriate to share information with top Obama administration officials.
AP reported that a federal law enforcement official says the Nov. 2 interview was with Broadwell, and the questioning reassured FBI agents they knew what classified documents Broadwell had, where they came from and that Petraeus had not supplied them.
The official says the agents became satisfied they knew the complete story about classified documents at issue. On Nov. 6, the FBI informed National Intelligence Director James Clapper of the investigation.
The CIA on Thursday opened an "exploratory" investigation into Petraeus' conduct. The inquiry "doesn't presuppose any particular outcome," said CIA spokesman Preston Golson.
Leading administration officials also met privately with lawmakers for a third straight day to explain how the Petraeus investigation was handled and explore its national security implications. Among those appearing before the House Intelligence Committee: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Acting CIA Director Michael Morell.
Meanwhile, lawmakers went forward with a hearing on the nomination of Gen. Joseph Dunford to replace Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan. But with Allen's own future uncertain, they put off consideration of his promotion to U.S. European Command chief and NATO supreme allied commander. Allen had initially been scheduled to testify, but his nomination was put on hold because suggestive emails between him and Jill Kelley turned up in the investigation.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., opened Dunford's hearing with kind words for Allen, saying, "I continue to believe that General Allen is one of our best military leaders. And I continue to have confidence in his ability to lead the war in Afghanistan."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.