David Petraeus Scandal Widens to Include Barack Obama's
The information was kept inside the Justice Department until last week, even though FBI agents had already discovered classified information on Mrs Broadwell's computer.
Allegations that one of the President's closest allies had known about the affair fuelled theories of a cover-up as the scandal expanded to include a second woman and continued to shake Washington.
Mrs Broadwell's father said his daughter was the victim of an attempt to hide "something else entirely", while friends of Gen Petraeus suggested a link between the resignation and his scheduled appearance later this week before a Congressional committee investigating the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Holder was told of the investigation into Gen Petraeus several months ago but it was not until Nov 6 that officials informed James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, who immediately urged Gen Petraeus to resign.
Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has officially commented but in private briefings insisted there was no obligation to inform the White House because it had already determined there was no breach of national security.
However, when FBI agents confronted Mrs Broadwell in September they seized a computer they believed she used to contact Gen Petraeus and found secret documents stored on it.
FBI agents were seen searching the Broadwell home in North Carolina on Monday night. It was not clear why.
Both Mrs Broadwell and Gen Petraeus admitted their affair during interviews with the FBI but both denied that he was the source of the classified material, according to the Journal.
The nature of the files is unknown but in a speech at the University of Denver in late October, Mrs Broadwell seemed to suggest she was privy to insider knowledge about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
The 40-year-old claimed Libyan militia members had been imprisoned in a small CIA building near the consulate, a theory that was not public at the time and has since been denied by the agency.
Any suggestion that the Justice Department kept its investigation in Gen Petraeus's affair secret to prevent it from becoming an election issue could be hugely damaging to the Obama administration.
Peter King, a Republican congressman who sits on the House intelligence committee, described the situation as a "crisis of major proportions" and the FBI had been "derelict in its duty" by not immediately informing the White House.
"Once the FBI realised that it was investigating the director of the CIA or the CIA director had come within its focus or its scope, I believe at that time they had an absolute obligation to tell the president," Mr King told MSNBC. "Not to protect David Petraeus, but to protect the president."
Paul Kranz, Mrs Broadwell's father, suggested that his daughter was being targeted as part as part of a broader cover-up.
"This is about something else entirely, and the truth will come out," he told the New York Daily News outside the family home in North Dakota.
A friend of Gen Petraeus questioned the "very suspicious" timing of the resignation, less than a week before the Benghazi hearings. "A lot of very senior people in the administration did not want him to give that evidence," the friend said.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat chair of the Senate intelligence committee said there was "absolutely not" any link between the two and that the President had "no choice" but to accept Gen Petraeus's resignation after it was offered on Thursday.
Mr Obama will be forced to answer questions about the affair during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday, his first since the election.
Gen Petraeus has not been seen since stepping down on Friday but told friends Mrs Broadwell was his only mistress and that his wife Holly was "furious" at his infidelity after 38 years of marriage.
"He had a huge job and he felt he was doing great work and that is all gone now," Steven Boylan, a former Army Colonel and ex-Petraeus spokesman, told ABC News.
Meanwhile, the CIA and Congress remained locked in a standoff over whether Gen Petraeus would appear before the House and Senate intelligence committees to testify on his former agency's role in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Immediately after his resignation on Friday, the CIA announced he would no longer attend the hearing and that Michael Morell, the agency's acting director, would be sent instead.
Mr King has called the former general "an absolutely essential witness" and demanded that he still appear, while other Republicans last week raised the possibility of issuing a subpoena to force him to testify.
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012
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