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Public Statements

CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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Location: Unknown

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REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think we have to look at the overall record. The American military has done a phenomenal job.

As to what General Petraeus did or General Allen may have done, there's still no nothing definite on that. I think we have to look at against the context of their entire careers. We can go back into the Bible, the days of King David, and human nature is human nature. And we as a government are trying to keep it under control.

But, no, listen, the American military is in a class by itself. I can tell you, every profession, I have known reporters, obviously politicians who have been involved in different affairs. This does not affect on the military, other than certainly General Petraeus and possibly, and I hesitate to even say it, General Allen.

But, no, I think we should not be in any way denigrating our military. They do an outstanding job and this is really the exception.

ROWLANDS: Nothing to extrapolate this out to anyone else. What do you make of the fact that we had this socialite person in Tampa, this Jill Kelley, apparently rubbing elbows with the leaders of the U.S. military, and apparently she also runs in Washington social circles.

What is going on here? Have you heard of this woman Jill Kelley before? Have you ever met her?

KING: Yes, I met her at one or two events at the British Embassy over the years.

And other than that, I really can't say. She is one of those people who is around apparently. She is -- apparently was involved with the military in Tampa. That is really all I know about her. I met her once, twice, and then at, again, social events and then until then and until now I had not heard anything about her at all.

Obviously, all of us are learning more about her now than we ever wanted to.

ROWLANDS: Does her access concern you?

KING: No. Again, we don't know the facts. She is -- apparently she and her husband were involved in socializing or being social coordinators for the military, which in and of itself is an admirable task, but, again, what went on, what didn't go on, we have to see.

I don't want to be pre-judging anyone here. And, again, you often find there are people, public and experienced citizens who want to assist the military. If it goes beyond that, that's a different issue. But in and of itself, I know of many people in New York who try to run social events in the military, try to in fact open their doors to them. So it is something we should try to encourage. Whether it is ever abused or not, that is a different story.

ROWLANDS: Let me ask you this. Do you take the White House at its word that the president didn't know about General Petraeus in the investigation until last week after the election?

KING: It is hard to believe. And if it is true, then someone dropped the ball here.

To me, a person as key a role as General Petraeus is and was, once the FBI realized that he was within the scope of the investigation, they had the absolute obligation I believe to tell the president because General Petraeus was representing the president on so many key matters around the world, in personal talks, negotiations with leaders around the world.

And so being in such a sensitive position where he could have been compromised, no, the president should have been told. If he was told and did nothing about it, that reflects on him. If he wasn't told, then that reflects on the people who should have told him, which I believe is the FBI and the attorney general. And certainly the White House staff, if they were told about it, they certainly should have informed the president.

But until then, we have to take the president at his word.

ROWLANDS: The other side of that argument would be that there are good reasons for the Justice Department as a law enforcement agency to limit communication with the White House. And how does the attorney general decide between what to do, talking to the president or keeping the investigation pure?

KING: To me, what is most important here is that the president's main job is commander in chief.

And if one of his top lieutenants, one of his top people is subject to compromise, the president should know that. Before he sends somebody out on a mission, he should know whether or not that person has been compromised. To me, that trumps all. That would not interfere with the investigation, but it would -- especially since General Petraeus apparently was never the target of the investigation, but it was information that came out about him, and to me the chance of something going wrong with General Petraeus or anyone in his position overseas being compromised is far greater a risk than an investigation of cyber-harassments.

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