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When David Petraeus’s resignation was announced, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, just re-elected to what seems like her seventeenth Senate term, was quick off the mark with her statement on Friday:

“I wish President Obama had not accepted this resignation, but I understand and respect the decision.”

Nothing says “out of the loop” more than publicly discussing your views of a personnel decision of the president of your own party, especially in any area where you have direct Congressional oversight. If she’d been in the loop, she wouldn’t talk about it. Why would DiFi issue such a statement? It only shows that she was neither consulted nor informed prior to the announcement, a rather embarrassing state of affairs for a senior Democrat who outpolled the president in California a mere 72 hours earlier. Her supposed Congressional oversight of intelligence, and relationships with executive branch officials, can really be called into question here. She doesn’t look independent by publicly wishing the president had done otherwise; she looks clueless.

She wouldn’t issue a statement challenging the president’s decision if she’d been included, or at the very least informed, beforehand. So she’s tipped her hand: she wasn’t. It doesn’t seem as if the Obama Administration views her as worthy of notification, even as her committee ramps up for its Benghazi hearings this coming week.

But then, looking even more foolish, she admits to subsequently finding out about ‘additional complications’ which compelled Petraeus’s resignation, and does so on FOX News Sunday morning:

On Sunday she reversed course, saying, “I think the president really had no choice but to accept the resignation.”

So unless she wishes the president had done something about which he actually had no choice, she’s changed her tune. What changed her mind, do you suppose? I mean, besides a call from the White House telling her to walk back her implicit criticism of the president’s acceptance of the resignation?

She ascribes her realization to “additional complications,” but which complications? She makes it sound in her statement as if Petraeus called her after she issued her statement: she “talked to him twice on Friday.”

There are a slew of complications we know about to choose from. Was it that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence and nominally Petraeus’s supervisor, told the CIA Director to resign? Her statement would look like unnecessary Congressional interference in the intelligence chain of command, to question a supervisory request to resign.

The Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, acting as a “friend, colleague, and fellow general officer,” on election night urged David Petraeus to resign after being notified by the FBI of the former CIA director’s extramarital affair, U.S. officials confirm.

Or was it, perhaps, that DiFi learned that the other House of Congress was involved, and not through its Intelligence Committee but through GOP House partisan leader Eric Cantor?

House majority leader Eric Cantor talked to an FBI official in late October about former CIA Director David Petraeus’ involvement in an affair, a spokesman for the congressman told CNN Sunday.

Doug Heye said Cantor had a conversation with the whistleblower about the affair and the national security concerns involved in the matter.

The New York Times reported Saturday that on October 31, Cantor’s chief of staff phoned the FBI to inform the agency about the call between the congressman and the FBI official. The Times reported Cantor learned of the whistleblower through Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Washington.

On this possible ‘additional complication,’ I go to Marcy Wheeler:

In other words, this instance of whistleblower was not conducted as it normally would be, through the appropriate committees, but instead went to the guy whose job is primarily political, leading the Republican caucus.

Note the timing, too. Petraeus was interviewed around October 25-26. Given that Cantor’s Chief of Staff called Mueller after that, it appears the FBI person probably contacted Cantor after that interview–or certainly after it got scheduled. One thing’s certain: the interview could not have been a CYA effort after Mueller got the call from Cantor.

Once she learned that Cantor and Reichert were involved, Feinstein really needed to play catch-up. And questioning the president’s decision publicly was probably not the best way for her to look more clued-in than those two bozos, neither of whom have any reason to be in the middle of a whistleblower case, or a national security honeytrap, at all.

Or did Dianne Feinstein’s ‘additional complications’ have something to do with the emails initially being investigated by the FBI, reportedly being from the ‘other woman’ to another ‘other woman?’

Jill Kelley, the State Department’s liaison to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fl., complained to the FBI about harassing emails that investigators traced back to Paula Broadwell, a married Army reservist who was Petraeus’s biographer, according to military sources.
Kelley, based at JSOC’s Tampa, Fla headquarters, was described as a close friend of Petraeus. Officials have said that Broadwell considered the woman she emailed as a rival for the retired general’s affections.

(UPDATE: It seems that Jill Kelley is not a State Department employee, although her dropping the “honorary” from her title “honorary ambassador” might have misled people on the base who were the initial source for information about her:)

A U.S. official said the coalition countries represented at Central Command gave Kelley an appreciation certificate on which she was referred to as an “honorary ambassador” to the coalition, but she has no official status and is not employed by the U.S. government.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the case publicly, said Kelley is known to drop the “honorary” part and refer to herself as an ambassador.

The military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, said Kelley had received harassing emails from Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Petraeus.

Since Dianne Feinstein changed her mind about President Obama accepting the CIA Director’s resignation due to ‘additional complications,’ I wonder if she will tell us which particular ‘additional complications’ led her to reverse course? Was it simply that she looked silly criticizing a president of her own party, appearing out of touch on the intelligence loop? Was it that it was the CIA Director’s supervisor’s idea that he resign? Was it the involvement of partisan leadership of the opposite party in the other house? [Or was it the involvement of a State Department employee at JSOC?]

Or did David Petraeus call her a second time after her first statement, as she seems to imply in her appearance with Chris Wallace above? Did he tell her not to question the president’s decision to accept his resignation?

Or are there other ‘additional complications’ we have yet to learn about that convinced DiFi that the president did, in fact, do the right thing in accepting the CIA Director’s resignation?

Teddy Partridge

Teddy Partridge