WASHINGTON (AP) — An aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says the Virginia congressman first heard about CIA Director David Petraeus' extramarital affair on Saturday, Oct. 27, from an FBI source he didn't know.
Communications director Rory Cooper told The Associated Press Monday that Cantor notified the FBI's chief of staff of the conversation, but did not tell anyone else because he did not know whether the information from an unknown source was credible.
The spokesman said the Oct. 27 conversation was arranged by Rep. Dave Reichert, a Washington Republican. Reichert had initially received a tip from an FBI source who was a colleague of the bureau employee who called Cantor.
The day after the late-October call, Cooper said, Cantor conferred with his chief of staff, Steve Stombres, and Richard Cullen, a former attorney general of Virginia who also served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Cantor decided after those conversations to call the FBI, but couldn't do so until Wednesday, Oct. 31, because the government was closed due to Superstorm Sandy.
On that Wednesday, Stombres called the FBI chief of staff to relay the information and received a return call from the official the next day. The Cantor aide was told the FBI could not confirm or deny an investigation, but the bureau official assured the leader's office it was acting to protect national security.
Cooper said Cantor's office did not notify anyone else because, "at the time, it was one person making the allegation which, while serious, was completely unsubstantiated. He (Cantor) didn't know this person. He did the only thing he thought appropriate and that he thought was responsible. Two weeks ago, you don't want to start spreading something you can't confirm."
Cantor believed that if the information was accurate and national security was affected, the FBI would — as obligated — inform the congressional intelligence committees and others, including Speaker John Boehner.
Congress will now investigate why the FBI didn't make the required notifications.