Reporting Gary Nelson
MIAMI (CBS4) – At a Veterans’ Day event in Southwest Miami-Dade Monday Democratic Congressman-elect Joe Garcia and longtime Republican Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen embraced fondly but took varying views on the scandal that has engulfed former CIA Director David Petraeus.
Petraeus resigned Friday after President Obama was informed of an FBI investigation into an adulterous affair the nation’s top spy was carrying on with a woman who wrote his biography.
Ros-Lehtinen was suspicious of the timing of Petraeus’s resignation, as Congress is about to hold hearings into the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya which claimed four American lives, including that of Ambassador Christopher Stephens.
The administration had maintained the attack was a spontaneous act by an angry mob, but it has since been learned it was apparently a coordinated assault by terrorists.
“He (Petraeus) resigned just a few days before he was set to give testimony in the House and the Senate on the Benghazi terrorist attack. That’s the only part where this becomes a matter of concern to the public,” Ros-Lehtinen said. She said his sexual affair was the concern only of “Petraeus and his family.”
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Chairman of the national Democratic party. said a thorough probe can be had without Petraeus’s presence.
“We have an Acting Director who is going to testify before Congress,” Wasserman Schultz said on Monday at a Veterans’ Day event in Hollywood. “The CIA, I know, will be fully cooperative with Congress’s investigation.”
Democrat-elect Garcia worried that Republicans will use revelations of Petraeus’s adulterous affair as a “political sledgehammer” in the Benghazi probe.
“What I don’t want is this to become a political football,” Garcia said. “I think politics stops at the shore’s edge.”
Ros-Lehtinen, however, was concerned that the Whitehouse learned of the Petraeus investigation only election night, and that no high level members of Congress were briefed on the matter.
“Diane Feinstein, she is the chairman of the intelligence committee on the Senate side and she’s a Democrat,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “She said this was ‘like a lightning bolt’ to have her not be told.”
It is both sad and ironic that the scandal swirling around one of America’s once most respected military figures would break on Veterans’ Day weekend, when the nation pauses to remember those who have served.
Petraeus now promises to be remembered in a way he would not prefer.