D.C. reeling over deepening scandal

By Katie GlueckFor

Lawmakers in both parties, blindsided by new developments in the scandal that has hit the highest echelons of the Pentagon, said Tuesday they are bewildered by the conduct of the country's top generals and are demanding answers.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) called the latest turn of events "disturbing" - referring to the FBI probe not only of Gen. David Petraeus, the former director of the CIA, but now his successor as U.S. commander of the war in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John R. Allen, as well.

"It's just, 'disturbing' is the word that has come to my mind since all of this has come to light," Wasserman Schultz said Tuesday on CNN's "Starting Point." "It goes without saying, if you're the director of the CIA, if you're a four-star general in the U.S. Army, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard and you can't put yourself in a compromising position."

Her comments came hours after reports surfaced that Allen, a four-star general who commands U.S. forces and the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, allegedly exchanged, from 2010 through 2012, between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of emails possibly of an inappropriate nature with Jill Kelley, the Tampa volunteer who reportedly received harassing emails that were eventually traced back to Petraeus's former mistress, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus stepped down over his affair.

Other reports say that Allen and Kelley had exchanged a few hundred not thousands of emails over several years, primarily about "routine stuff." But an Associated Press report on Tuesday said a senior defense official called the emails between Allen and Kelley "flirtatious."

The morning news cycle was dominated by the allegation that Allen may have engaged in inappropriate behavior. Allen, who is married, was nominated for the position of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), but that has now been placed on hold, the White House has confirmed.

"At the request of the Secretary of Defense, the President has put on hold his nomination of Gen. Allen as SACEUR pending the investigation of Gen. Allen's conduct by the Department of Defense IG," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. "The president remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan, who Gen. Allen continues to lead as he has so ably done for over a year."

Adultery can be a crime under military law, depending on the circumstances.

Wasserman Schultz dismissed the idea that the incidents involving Petraeus and Allen are private matters.

"The fact is, if you're in a position like the two of them are, the possibility of being compromised is there, and it's just something that's disturbing and requires much further investigation," she said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said he had more questions that answers, particularly about the women who have been linked to the two generals.

"These are some very serious positionswho are these women?" Chaffetz asked on CNN's "Starting Point." "Do they have ties to other states? What is their background? What is going on here? Because whether you eat cornflakes or Fruit Loops in the morning, there are other intelligence agencies that want to know that. If you're sleeping around, that'spretty serious."

Chaffetz also stressed that the president and Congress needed to know if Petraeus had been "compromised in any way."

"I want to make sure that the president is fully engaged," Chaffetz said. "One of the things that's troubling to me is the idea that, for instance, going back to David Petraeus, that he just learned about it last week? I have a hard time believing that. If months and months and months ago this investigation started he's not the head of Fish and Wildlife. He's the head of the CIA. And if he's been compromised in any way, shape or form, the President of the United States needs to know that. And Congress needs to be notified of that."

He added, referencing alleged adultery, "It's a crime in the military, these are four-stars. You don't go to the bathroom without six people knowing where you're going."

Some lawmakers also said they want to know more about the FBI's role in the case.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday questioned why the agency had launched an investigation in the first place.

"This is not the type of case that normally becomes a federal investigation," King said on NBC's "Today." "Cyber harassment between two women, or between any two people, or a love triangle or whatever it was, should not rise to this level. We're in cyber wars with Iran and China, which is serious enough without putting personnel on something like this."

NBC reported Monday the FBI was worried because the emails contained information on "comings and goings" of high-ranking military officials at U.S. Central Command in Tampa and U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) said the developments raised questions about what the Obama administration knew and when.

"There's a lot of whys out there," he said in CNN's "Starting Point," adding, "The real question is about this administration. Why the opaqueness? Why not transparency? What did they know, when did they know it, why wasn't it communicated?There are real questions that need to be answered, this administration and these individuals need to answer whether or not there was any compromise in American intelligence or security."

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he learned about the Petraeus incident on television.

At a minimum, "anytime you have something touching on a sensitive position like the director of CIA, the president needs to be notified immediately and I would suggest that at least the chairman and ranking member of the congressional intelligence committees need to be notified immediately," Thurnberry said on Fox News's "America's Newsroom." "Turns out it was months later on both counts."

Thornberry also said the scandal raises important political questions.

"This is a top national security official and the questions we're going to have is, was the timing related to the election?" he said. "That's what we're going to pursue."

But Wasserman Schultz cautioned against that line of questioning. She said that while congressional intelligence leaders "should have been notified sooner," per protocol, an investigation will occur and all involved should avoid gratuitously politicizing the matter.

"The 'what did he know, when did he know it,' that smacks of politics," she said. "We have to come togetherthere's no question it should be investigated. It is going to be investigated. Like the defense secretary said, intelligence, congressional leaders should have been notified sooner but let's not have this spiral downward into something that just becomes more politics. We just came off an election."

Price said the scandal has a deeply "human" element, too.

"This points out human frailty, humans oftentimes come up short; it's just so very sad, sad for Gen. Petraeus, sad for his family," he said."But we need to dust ourselves off and make certain American security and American intelligence weren't compromised and then get back to hard work of serving the American people."

Petraeus announced his resignation over the extramarital affair Friday afternoon, and a new bombshell has dropped every day since then. On Monday night, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI agent who began the investigation of the threatening emails Kelley flagged was pulled off the case after allegedly sending the Tampa woman shirtless pictures of himself. But by Tuesday morning, that story was already being overshadowed by new allegations about Allen.

Also Tuesday, the New York Post revealed that both Petraeus and Allen intervened on behalf of Kelley's twin sister, whom a judge called "psychologically unstable," in a controversial child custody case. According to the Post's report, both sent letters, penned in the past two months, to the court, arguing on behalf of a motion that would "overturn a ruling made nearly a year earlier by a judge who resoundingly denied custody to" Kelley's sister "because of serious reservations about her honesty and mental stability, court records show."

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the scandal comes at a "critical moment" for the military.

"I think we will get to the bottom of this," Cummings said on CNN's "Starting Point." "I think what will probably happen in the end is that we'll figure out what went wrong here. And it will be one of those critical moments where we have to correct our course, whatever mistakes may have been made, if any. But I do believe that this is a critical moment for our military."

Meanwhile, a retired general said on Tuesday that he found the tens of thousands of emails allegedly exchanged between Allen and Kelley, a social liaison to an air force base, "just bizarre."

"That's a heck of a lot of time behind the computer sending notes to a party planner," said Ret. Gen. James "Spider" Marks on CNN's "Starting Point." "From a senior officer who has, obviously, a bunch of things on his plate.

"He's burning a lot of daylight spending time with a party planner over email," Marks continued. "So that's just bizarre, in my mind."

Kevin Robillard contributed to this report.

Katie Glueck is a reporter for{} POLITICO and ABC News 4 have partnered for the 2012 presidential campaign cycle.