Hardball | November 14, 2012
>>> his press conference for the first time on the scandal that has forced the resignation of his cia director . it took time to offer strong praise, by the way, he did, for petraeus . listen to how well he praises this guy that's just been forced to resign. i wanted to know why he did it, but first let's hear it.
>> general petraeus had an extraordinary career. he served this country with great distinction, in iraq, in afghanistan , and as head of the cia. i want to emphasize that from my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. we are safer because of the work that dave petraeus has done. and my main hope right now is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.
>> well, we know so far is that david petraeus , the general had an affair with his biography, paula broadwell that came to light after the fbi began investigating harassing e-mails sent to jill kelley , a socialite in tampa. the fbi found out it was broadwell sending those e-mails. according to the washington post , the e-mail described kelley as a seductress. for more on where things stand we're joined by chief white house correspondent -- mike isikoff, and of course we've got david corn , who's on the show now from mother jones . let me talk about this, first of all. i think it was interesting of the president to give almost a complete snow white description of this guy. he referred to the affair, which is the reason he's being removed from office, as a single side note. i mean, bill clinton went through --
>> yeah, yeah.
>> this guy get a single side note.
>> just a pesky asterisk. but, you know, politicians and presidents for years in washington have been using david petraeus as cover. if you can get underneath --
>> republicans said that name over and over .
>> wrap yourself in the petraeus flag and you got immunity from almost anything.
>> what is president obama worried about petraeus ?
>> i think it's -- i think he's being gracious now. i think maybe buyer's remorse, some people once you get into the details of this whacky situation, they're thinking maybe he should have stuck with him, maybe everything moved too fast, maybe he's -- he did what he did but maybe he's the victim --
>> before you jump to that, and i am -- the older i get the more leaning i get towards these --
>> meaning --
>> if it got out he had this affair with the reporter and also got out that the president knowing about it had kept him in office, what would that have been like?
>> that would have been bad. the only way you can do this is if you make a clean breast of it, say you're sorry --
>> tell the country that?
>> tell the country. it's what bill clinton did.
>> but he was impeached.
>> under a little pressure.
>> let's go to the latest developments in this. mrs. kelley , jill kelley , she's married, she was the one involved in being apparently -- she was scaring this other woman who was having the affair with petraeus . she complained to an fbi agent. this is where it became official. complained, jill kelley , complained to an fbi agent --
>> who was a friend of hers.
>> who was being harassed. then she does this call. she called 911 one week complaining, that was jill kelley , tried to invoke diplomatic privilege to get the press off her lawn. let's listen to this. this is a little strange.
>> i am an honorary consul - general , so i have inviolatability so they should not be to cross my property. i don't know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well?
>> this is getting more indicakato more every day.
>> that phone call replaced --
>> was she writing, claiming diplomatic immunity from the press?
>> no. she had a badge from mcdill air force base , which was --
>> consul for --
>> honorary consul .
>> give it to me.
>> look. we got a briefing from a source close to jill kelley this evening that sheds a little light on the origins of this and how this came about. the initial e-mail that triggers the concern comes from an anonymous e-mail from a kelley to general allen in afghanistan , warning him about his relation -- about his relationship with jill kelley and about an upcoming meeting they are going to have in washington. which, in fact, they were going to have. jill kelley and her husband were going to have with general allen . she -- general allen then turns that over to both jill kelley saying, what's this all about? did you send me this? what are you talking about?
>> why is she an object of suspicious, because she has lebanese background or what? why are people buzzing around her and bothering her in these personal relationships?
>> we don't know what set paula broadwell off, but we understand a little more about what it was that triggered the concern of jill kelley , of general allen and the fbi . because they're talking about something that is not publicly known, the general in afghanistan is going to have a meeting with a woman in tampa. and then subsequent e-mails, about three or four more along the same lines about a meeting --
>> i want to ask you my favorite question in journalism and i want a quick answer. so what? the whole thing about so what? is there anything about national security in this?
>> at the end of the day , probably not. but at the time when here is somebody, an anonymous person on the internet who knows the comings and goings of the cia director that's not public --
>> is john allen going to remain our commander in afghanistan ?
>> i think it depends on how inappropriate these e-mails --
>> 30,000 pages.
>> it's not actually 30,000. it's a lot less than that because of the way they count. they say hundreds of e-mails.
>> but pages.
>> because of threads, it's kind of technically complicated. hundreds of e-mails. we don't know exactly what he said. if he was just flirtatious with this woman and still commanding a war and doing a good job, why would you bounce him because of that?
>> a source close to kelley characterized those e-mails this evening, saying, first of all, there's a handful that are problematic, that some might consider flirtatious, some might consider inappropriate, that maybe general allen had a glass of wine more than he should have, but not overtly sexual. not sexting. make of that what you will, but i'm just saying what --
>> your so what question is important. what happened here is the fbi got this tip, started looking and things sort of cascade from there. once you bring in the fbi and --
>> can i ask you about -- last question. i hear from progressives, they call me, e-mail me, talk to me. there's some suspicion on the part of a friend of mine, this is the fbi , a political point of view, he brought this up to members of congress, he brought if to hand because he wanted to hurt the administration.
>> i don't know if it was political. he wanted time with jill kelley --
>> that does not conform with the facts as we know it.
>> you have to follow these leads. thank you michael isikoff and david corn . not every road leads to heaven.
>>> jon stewart has something to say about those petitions, by the way, asking certain states be allowed to secede. what a waste of paper. that's ahead. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ knock