UPDATE: David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill after being sneaked in through a series of underground tunnels VIDEO
Update (Nov. 20, 8:36 a.m.): Paula Broadwell has hired the high-profile Washington PR firm Glover Park Group to represent her as fallout from the scandal continues. Meanwhile, Natalie Khawam, Jill Kelley’s twin sister, has reportedly retained Gloria Allred, according to Katie Hinman of ABC News.
Update (Nov. 19, 10:36 a.m.): The Associated Press reports on the FBI ‘s uncovering of the Petraeus scandal, and how it is the “exception, not the rule” for how the agency would respond to cyberstalking cases. But because the emails involved top officials, the Kelley case was different. From the AP:
The bureau probably would have ignored Kelley’s complaint had it not been for information in the e-mails — which the FBI ultimately traced to Paula Broadwell, an Army reservist and Petraeus’s biographer — that indicated the sender was aware of the travel schedules of Petraeus and Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
• On the Paula Broadwell front, the AP also reports that she is telling friends she is “devastated” by the fallout from her affair with Petraeus, and regrets the damage. And the New York Post had a report that Broadwell had been considering a run for political office prior to revelations about the affair, and reportedly said she had been approached by members of “both parties” because of her military background.
Update (Nov. 16, 3:00 p.m.): The former CIA director apologized to lawmakers on Capitol Hill Friday for the affair that led to his resignation. However, as the New York Times noted, “lawmakers said later that they did not ask about the matter. Instead, the focus of both hearings was the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi.”
Update (Nov. 16, 10:50 a.m.): Petraeus’ 90-minute, closed door congressional testimony this morning has ended. According to the AP, Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House homeland security committee, said after Petraeus testified that there were discrepancies between what the former CIA director had previously told the committee about the Benghazi attack and what he said on Friday.
Petraeus on Friday said that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist act. “King said that earlier, Petraeus had said it was principally a reaction to an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S.,” the AP noted. The Obama administration’s shifting narrative on the reasons behind the embassy attack has fueled ongoing Republican criticism and grandstanding — or what our own Alex Pareene called “an entirely made up scandal.”
The AP noted that “The retired four-star army general, formerly one of the country’s most respected military leaders, entered through a network of underground hallways leading to a secure room. CIA directors typically walk through the building’s front door.”
Update (Nov. 16, 9:00 a.m.): Petraeus will testify Friday on Capitol Hill about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, but, Reuters noted, also is expected to be asked about his resignation last week.
“Shortly before 7:30 a.m. EST, an aide said Petraeus had arrived and the hearing was about to start. Reporters did not see Petraeus when he showed up,” reported Reuters.
Meanwhile, CNN reported Thursday night that Petraeus has denied passing classified documents to Paula Broadwell and that the former CIA director told CNN’s Kyra Phillips that his resignation was solely the result of the affair and was not linked to the CIA’s role during the Benghazi attack. Via CNN:
Update (Nov. 15, 4:46 p.m.): Somewhat inevitably, the shirtless photo of the FBI agent has been released, via the Seattle Times:
• The LA Times also reports that Jill Kelley had begun to grate on military staff at MacDill even before the scandal broke, “flooding senior officers’ inboxes with emails and requests for help organizing her social functions. Her constant presence caused some officers’ aides to worry about the appearance of an attractive, outgoing woman cozying up to senior military leaders.”
Update (Nov. 15, 10:48 a.m.): Thursday’s latest.
• The previously unidentified shirtless-picture-sending FBI agent has now been identified as Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, who helped lead the investigation into the millennium bomber, Ahmed Ressam, who plotted to blow up LAX in 1999.
The general counsel for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Lawrence Berger, told the New York Times that Humphries was “social friends” with Kelley before she initially reported to him the emails from Broadwell. Berger also dismissed the shirtless picture Humphries had sent to Kelley prior to the investigation, which have, for obvious reasons, been a sticking point in the scandal:
“That picture was sent years before Ms. Kelley contacted him about this, and it was sent as part of a larger context of what I would call social relations in which the families would exchange numerous photos of each other,” Mr. Berger said.
The photo was sent as a joke, he said, and was of Mr. Humphries “posing with a couple of dummies.” Mr. Berger added that it was not sexual in nature.
• Both Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley lost various forms of access this week. Kelley lost her ability to visit MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa without an escort, as part of the ”Friends of MacDill” program. And Broadwell reportedly lost her high-level military security clearance, according to an AP source.
• Petraeus will testify before the House Intelligence committee on the attacks in Benghazi on Friday, the Associated Pressreports. HLN reporter Kyra Phillips said on CNN this morning that in a conversation with Petraeus, he denied that his resignation had anything to do with Benghazi: “He has said this has nothing to do with Benghazi, and he wants to testify, he will testify. He has maintained to me all along that this was a personal failing…He has made it very clear that this was about an extramarital affair and not over classified information or Benghazi.”
• And Eric Cantor explained to reporters why he kept quiet on David Petraeus’ affair: ”I had no way of corroborating the story I was told, and I thought that the best thing at the time was not to politicize it and to put national security first.”
Update (Nov. 14, 4:36 p.m.): Reuters is reporting that anonymous law enforcement and national security officials reportedly say that there was classified information found on Paula Broadwell’s computer, which would be a departure from what Obama said in the press conference:
The contents of the classified material and how Broadwell acquired it remain under investigation, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.
But the quantity of classified material found on the computer was significant enough to warrant a continuing investigation, the officials told Reuters.
The officials also told Reuters that criminal charges resulting from the investigation are unlikely.
Update (Nov. 14, 1:44 p.m.): In a press conference, President Obama addressed Petraeus’ resignation, telling reporters that he has “no evidence at this point from what I’ve seen that classified information was disclosed, that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.” He added: “I don’t want to comment on the specifics of the investigation,” noting that the FBI has its own protocols.
Shortly after, Obama answered a question about whether he thinks he should have been told sooner about the FBI’s investigation into Petraeus. “I am withholding judgement with respect to how the entire process surrounding Gen. Petraeus came up,” Obama replied. “We don’t have all the information yet. But I want to say that I have a lot of confidence generally in the FBI.”
“It is also possible that had we been told, that you’d be sitting here asking why were you interfering in a criminal investigation,” he added.
Update (Nov. 14, 10:58 a.m.): Lots of new information this morning.
• Firstly, Charlie Crist denies the Telegraph’s report of a relationship with Natalie Khawam, telling the Tampa Bay Times: ”Consider the source.”
“Didn’t happen,” he added. “I may have met her.” Crist did note that he met Jill Kelley, her husband, Petraeus and his wife for a dinner at Bern’s Steak House, arranged by Kelley.
• There was also a report at The Huffington Post that Kelley ran a questionable cancer charity, which claimed on its tax forms that its mission was to “be operated exclusively to conduct cancer research and to grant wishes to terminally ill adult cancer patients.” But, according to HuffPo:
From the records, it appears that the charity fell far short of its mission. While the origins of the seed money used to start the charity in 2007 are unclear, financial records reviewed by The Huffington Post reveal that the group spent all of its money not on research, but on parties, entertainment, travel and attorney fees.
By the end of 2007, the charity had gone bankrupt, having conveniently spent exactly the same amount of money, $157,284, as it started with — not a dollar more, according to its 990 financial form. Of that, $43,317 was billed as “Meals and Entertainment,” $38,610 was assigned to “Travel,” another $25,013 was spent on legal fees, and $8,822 went to “Automotive Expenses.”
• On the Gen. John Allen front, Leon Panetta said in a press conference that ”no one should leap to any conclusions” about Allen’s relationship with Kelley, adding that Allen still has his “confidence.” The emails between Allen and Kelley have been conflictingly described as “flirtatious,” as described above, and innocuous, as the New York Times reports this morning. “If you know Allen, he’s just the kind of guy to respond dutifully to every e-mail he gets — ‘you’re the best,’ ‘you’re a sweetheart,’ that kind of thing,” a senior official told the Times.
The Times also reports that Allen was, in fact, the first to receive an anonymous email from Broadwell about Kelley:
General Allen’s connection to the scandal appears to have originated with an e-mail he received from an account that was registered under a fake name and has now been linked to Ms. Broadwell, according to a senior American official. The e-mail warned General Allen to be wary of Ms. Kelley and was vaguely threatening. Though he did not know who had written the e-mail, he was concerned and passed it on to Ms. Kelley. She then discussed it with an agent she knew at the F.B.I.’s field office in Tampa, whose cybercrime unit opened an investigation that eventually linked Ms. Broadwell to General Petraeus.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the email from Broadwell, who was using the pseudonym ”KelleyPatrol,” described Kelley as a “seductress.” Kelley also tried to call off the FBI’s investigation, apparently after developing some misgivings about the potential scope of the scandal.
• Earlier reports that the FBI had found that no sensitive information had been leaked to Broadwell appear to be inaccurate, according to the Washington Post. When officials searched Broadwell’s home Monday night, carting away boxes, those boxes reportedly contained classified documents that Broadwell had in her possession. “The issue of national security is still on the table,” a law enforcement official told the Post.
Update (Nov. 13, 5:09 p.m.): Jon Swaine of The Daily Telegraph writes on Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam’s reported financial troubles, with some unnamed sources attributing them to lavish parties:
Jill Kelley, whose complaint over threatening emails prompted the FBI inquiry that has ensnared two top generals, is mired in lawsuits from a string of banks totalling $4 million (£2.5 million), court filings obtained by The Daily Telegraph in Florida show.
Meanwhile Mrs Kelley’s identical twin Natalie Khawam – who obtained testimonies to her good character from both Gen Petraeus and Gen John Allen during her own separate legal battle – declared herself bankrupt earlier this year with liabilities of $3.6 million, filings show.
The Telegraph also writes that reportedly “Khawam once dated Charlie Crist, the state’s former governor, a Republican source said, while Pam Bondi, its Attorney General and a close ally of Mitt Romney, attended a function at Mrs Kelley’s home.”
Update (Nov. 13, 3:49 p.m.): The Uniform Code of Military Justice makes it a crime to commit adultery (From the manuel: “Adultery is clearly unacceptable conduct, and it reflects adversely on the service record of the military member…To constitute an offense under the UCMJ, the adulterous conduct must either be directly prejudicial to good order and discipline or service discrediting.), so there has been some question as to whether Petraeus could face a court martial, even though he had stepped down from his Army post at the time the affair reportedly began.
Yale Law professor and military-law scholar Eugene Fidell, also the former president of the National Institute of Military Justice, told Time that firstly it doesn’t matter if Petraeus left his post, “Retired regulars who draw pay are subject to the UCMJ, for life.” But, he added, “It’s not going to happen.”
“If it’s true that the President tried to persuade him not to quit [according to some news reports], that suggests to me that the Pentagon or the Army – which has the decision on this – will not exert itself” on a Petraeus court-martial, Fidell explained.
The twisty story behind David Petraeus’ resignation keeps getting twistier as new revelations surface involving shirtless photos and two sets of emails, one “harassing” and one “flirtatious.”
Based on news reports, most from anonymous FBI agents and other government officials, we have an expanding dramatis personae, which so far involves five key players, plus a little dash of Congress to spice things up. Here’s what we know and we’ll update this post as we learn more:
First you’ve got David Petraeus himself, the former CIA director, who resigned from his post late Friday, Nov. 9, citing an affair. The affair was with Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer, and reportedly began in the fall of 2011. Broadwell was an Army Reserve officer who also wrote about military affairs, and met Petraeus initially in 2006, when he spoke to her graduate program at Harvard. In 2008, in the course of working on her Ph.D., Broadwell began researching Petraeus for what would eventually be her book, “All In: The Education of David Petraeus” (not to be confused with the book title accidentally given by an ABC News Denver affiliate).
Broadwell’s Internet trail wound up providing tantalizing retrospective hints about her relationship with Petraeus. For example, she repeatedly described Petraeus as her “mentor” in a series of interviews to promote the book. In one New York Observer interview, Broadwell defended her gushing biography: “It’s not a hagiography, I’m not in love with David Petraeus, but I think he does present a terrific role model for young people, for executives, for men and women. No matter what, there’s a great role model there.”
She also was part of a strange email exchange with the Daily Princetonian, Princeton’s student newspaper, which said its interactions with Broadwell “hinted at an undefined and unclear relationship between her and Petraeus,” in that Broadwell “first acted [as] a spokesman for Petraeus.”
“Gen. Petraeus is going to send some thoughts which I’ll pass along to you this afternoon,” she said in one email.
Petraeus and Broadwell ended their affair about four months ago, over the summer. But the reverberations continued because Broadwell had sent a series of anonymous “harassing” emails to another woman, beginning in May. The woman turned out to be Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family from Tampa, Fla., who served as social ambassador for U.S. Central Command when Petraeus was commander. Broadwell had reportedly felt that Kelley was too friendly with Petraeus, and, the New York Times reports, in one email accused Kelley of “touching” Petraeus inappropriately under a dinner table.
The FBI learned of Petraeus’ affair with Broadwell in late summer, in the course of investigating a complaint from Kelley about the emails. Kelley’s relationship with Petraeus is still unclear, though Petraeus also has reportedly said his relationship with Kelley was platonic.
Kelley initially reported Broadwell’s emails to an FBI agent, still unidentified, who was a friend of hers. The agent passed along information to FBI agents who investigated her allegations, but, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, was told to stay away from the case because he was too personally involved. How personally involved was he? The agent “allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to [Kelley] prior to the investigation,” according to the Journal.
But the agent was sufficiently invested in the case to worry that the FBI wouldn’t properly investigate the emails, and leaked news of the investigation to Rep. David Reichert, R-Wash. An official told the New York Times that the agent may have been influenced by his “worldview,” and possibly “suspected a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama.”
Reichert, in turn, set up a meeting between an associate of the agent and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on Oct. 27. Cantor then sent his chief of staff, Steve Stombres, back to the FBI with the information on Oct. 31 (delayed due to Hurricane Sandy). The FBI wouldn’t confirm or deny an investigation, because, it said, there were national security issues at hand.
In September of this year, the FBI interviewed Broadwell about the emails to Kelley, and in gaining access to her computer found more emails between her and Petraeus, from a joint email account. The two used the account to communicate via message drafts, instead of sending actual emails, which, the AP reports, is a trick “known to terrorists and teenagers alike.” Though the FBI determined that there had been no security breach between Broadwell and Petraeus, that did not stop them from searching Broadwell’s home in Charlotte, N.C., Monday night, and reportedly taking away what reporters on the scene described as boxes of documents.
Finally, there’s Gen. John R. Allen, the White House pick to serve as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the FBI had uncovered 20,000-30,000 pages of documents, mostly “potentially inappropriate” emails, between Allen and Kelley. The New York Times reports that a senior Defense Department official said Allen denied an affair with Kelley, but the official described the emails as “of a flirtatious nature; some were of an affectionate nature.”
“That is what makes the e-mails potentially inappropriate,” the official added, though added it was not immediately clear if Allen was flirting with Kelley, or vice versa.
Petraeus and Allen also helped out Kelley’s twin sister, Natalie Khawam, in late September, when she needed character references to appeal the loss of custody of her four-year old son, CBS News reports. Both Petraeus and Allen signed letters submitted for the appeal.
What else we know:
The timeline of officials who learned of the FBI’s investigation goes a little something like this, according to news reports so far: Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller were informed in late summer. Once the FBI determined that there were no security breaches, it informed Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on Nov. 6, Election Day. Clapper told the White House on late Wednesday. Obama was filled in Thursday morning, before Petraeus handed in his resignation. Obama accepted on Friday, the day Petraeus announced his resignation, and when most of Congress found out.
The scandal is also slightly complicated by the Benghazi affair: Petraeus was scheduled to testify before Congress on Thursday about what the CIA knew about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Though, for now, Michael Morell, filling in for Petraeus in the interim, will testify. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, has suggested that Petraeus could still be called in at a later date. Meanwhile, the right wing is up in arms that Petraeus will not be testifying, theorizing that it’s just another part of the administration’s coverup of the attack.
Additionally, lawmakers have indicated that they intend to investigate the FBI’s handling of the Petraeus revelations, and why the White House and Congress — Cantor and Reichert aside — did not learn of the investigation until last week. The Wall Street Journal explains that the FBI has a long-standing policy of not informing the White House and Congress of pending criminal investigations.
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