White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday that President Obama “has faith in Gen. [John] Allen,” the top commander in Afghanistan, despite an investigation into allegations of "inappropriate" emails between the general and a Florida woman.
The allegations against General Allen were triggered following a probe into a career-ending affair for CIA Director and former General David Petraeus.
The president—who found out about the affair on Thursday -- was “certainly surprised” by Petraeus’ resignation, Carney said.
The White House spokesman would give little in the way of details surrounding the new revelations about Allen, but said Obama believes the general is doing an “excellent job." He noted however, at the request of Department of Defense, Allen’s pending nomination to be NATO’s supreme commander would be put on hold.
Carney also reiterated Obama’s appreciation of Petraeus’ “remarkable service to the country” but said the president was focused on the agenda he believes is most important to the country, including jobs and economic growth.
The saga sparked by the Petraeus affair continues to expand.
Gen. Allen is being investigated for potentially sending a massive number of “inappropriate” e-mails to Jill Kelley, a Florida woman involved in the scandal, according to NBC News.
Kelley had complained about receiving threatening emails, which were later traced by the FBI to Petraeus biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell, which ultimately exposed the affair and led to the CIA director's resignation last week.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Tuesday in a statement that the FBI referred the issue surrounding Allen to the Department of Defense and that it’s now “in the hands of the Inspector General.”
Allen will remain as commander of the ISAF during the probe because he was “entitled to due process,” said Panetta.
It remains unclear what, exactly, Allen was doing emailing Kelley, or why. But a senior defense official told NBC that Allen “disputes that he has engaged any wrongdoing.”
As for the correspondence between Kelley and Broadwell: Michael Isikoff, investigative journalist for NBC News, revealed the nature of the emails from Broadwell to Kelly, a friend of the Petraeus family who did volunteer work for military families.
Isikoff said Broadwell accused Kelley of “improper socializing with generals in Tampa” and referenced the comings and goings of Petraeus—information that indicated “somebody had access to highly sensitive information.”