President Barack Obama makes an opening statement during his first news conference after Election Day, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (Credit: AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he had no evidence that national security was threatened by the widening sex scandal that ensnared his former CIA director and top military commander in Afghanistan.
In his first postelection news conference, Obama also reaffirmed his belief that the U.S. can’t afford to continue tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, a key sticking point in negotiations with Republicans over the impending “fiscal cliff.”
The tangled email scandal that cost David Petraeus his CIA career and led to an investigation of Gen. John Allen has disrupted Obama’s plans to keep a narrow focus on the economy coming out of last week’s election. And it has overshadowed his efforts to build support behind his re-election pledge to make the wealthy pay more in taxes in order to reduce the federal deficit.
Obama said he hoped the scandal would be a “single side note” in Petraeus’ otherwise extraordinary career.
Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA last Friday because of an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, who U.S. officials say sent harassing emails to a woman she viewed as a rival for the former general’s affection. The investigation revealed that that woman, Jill Kelley, also exchanged sometimes-flirtatious messages with Allen.
Obama brushed aside questions about whether he was informed about the FBI investigations that led to the disclosures quickly enough. White House officials first learned about the investigations last Wednesday, the day after the election, and Obama was alerted the following day.