The revelation of an affair between former CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer only added another layer to what some lawmakers see as the even larger scandal in Benghazi, Libya, where an ambassador and three other Americans lost their lives. Sprinkle on a few thousands emails between a four-star general and a Tampa socialite and you have a made-for-Washington screenplay that is producing more questions than answers.
News of the admitted and alleged relationships involving Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, along with Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley only serve to refocus attention on the Sept. 11 attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.
In a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) called for a special Senate committee to investigate Libya and all that surrounds it. The three senators' direct remarks indicated they were much more concerned about how and why the attacks occurred and why the White House was not forthcoming with timely information than they were about the latest round of sexual scandals.
"Let me be clear: there is no credibility among most of us concerning the administration and the numerous controversies and contradictions that have been involved in their handling of this issue," said McCain at Wednesday's news conference on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scoffed at the suggestion and said he was not in favor of the idea.
Earlier on Wednesday, Petraeus indicated he would voluntarily testify before congressional committees investigating Libya. He had been scheduled to testify on Thursday but after his resignation the CIA announced the new interim director would appear on the hill.
Lawmakers said Petraeus' testimony was vital to uncovering what happened in Benghazi and warned the White House they would subpoena him if necessary.
Besides the FBI uncovering the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell after she sent Kelley anonymous emails suggesting she stay away from him, the agency also carted away boxes from her Charlotte, N.C., home that sources say contain classified documents.
Some sources say the affair may not have been revealed if the FBI agent who was first notified about the affair did not tip off Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) who in turn contacted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) in late October.
It was Cantor who contracted FBI Director Robert Mueller and reported the allegations.
Broadwell, who turned 40 last week, told investigators she took the documents from a government building but denied she gained access to the material as a result of her relationship with Petraeus.
During a press conference in the White House East Room on Wednesday, President Obama said he has seen no evidence of a security breach from the affair between the two. However, reporters questioned him on why he was not informed of the improper relationship by Attorney General Eric Holder who had knowledge of the affair in August.
"If I had details of the relationship you would probably be asking me why I was interfering with an on-going investigation," said Obama.
Authorities will also be investigating comments made by Broadwell in October when she was speaking at a University of Denver event where she offered details about the CIA detaining members of the Libyan militia.
"Now I don't know if a lot of you heard this, but the CIA annex had actually – had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner and they think that the attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back. So that's still being vetted," she said.
The CIA has denied any Libyans were detained as it violates federal law.
Still another layer to peel back are thousands of pages of emails shared between Allen and Kelley, who served as a volunteer liaison between the military base and families in Tampa, Fla. Both Petraeus and Allen were acquaintances of Kelley and her physician husband.
The extent of the relationship between Allen and Kelley has not been confirmed. However, the White House has placed his nomination to command Europe on hold until an internal investigation is complete. Allen is still in command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.