New details emerged into the FBI investigation of Paula Broadwell's emails Monday, while President Obama hunted for a new CIA director to replace David Petraeus, who resigned last week.
WASHINGTON — CIA Director David Petraeus was shocked to learn last summer that his mistress was suspected of sending threatening emails warning another woman to stay away from him, former staff members and friends told The Associated Press Monday.
Petraeus, who led U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned his CIA post Friday, acknowledging his extramarital affair with his biographer-turned-lover and expressing deep regret. The scandal has rocked Washington, where members of Congress demanded to know why a months-long probe that ended the former general's storied career was kept quiet for so long.
Petraeus told these associates his relationship with the second woman, Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, was platonic, though his lover Paula Broadwell apparently saw her as a romantic rival. Retired Gen. Petraeus also denied to these associates that he had given Broadwell any of the sensitive military information alleged to have been found on her computer, saying anything she had must have been provided by other commanders during reporting trips to Afghanistan.
The associates spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the matters, which could be part of an FBI investigation.
New details of the investigation emerged as President Barack Obama hunted for a new CIA director.
Kelley, the Tampa woman, began receiving harassing emails in May, according to two federal law enforcement officials. They, too, spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. The emails led Kelley to report the matter, eventually triggering the investigation that led Petraeus to resign as head of the intelligence agency.
FBI agents traced the alleged cyber harassment to Broadwell, the officials said, and discovered she was exchanging intimate messages with a private gmail account. Further investigation revealed the account belonged to Petraeus under an alias.
Petraeus and Broadwell apparently used a trick, known to terrorists and teenagers alike, to conceal their email traffic, one of the law enforcement officials said.
Rather than transmitting emails to the other's inbox, they composed at least some messages and instead of transmitting them, left them in a draft folder or in an electronic "dropbox," the official said. Then the other person could log onto the same account and read the draft emails there. This avoids creating an email trail that is easier to trace.
Broadwell had co-authored a biography titled "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," published in January. In the preface, she said she met Petraeus in the spring of 2006 while she was a graduate student at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and she ended up following him on multiple trips to Afghanistan as part of her research.
But the contents of the email exchanges between Petraeus and Broadwell suggested to FBI agents that their relationship was intimate. The FBI concluded relatively quickly — by late summer at the latest — that no security breach had occurred, the two senior law enforcement officials said. But the FBI continued its investigation into whether Petraeus had any role in the harassing emails.
Petraeus, 60, told one former associate he began an affair with Broadwell, 40, a couple of months after he became the director of the CIA late last year. They mutually agreed to end the affair four months ago, but they kept in contact because she was still writing a dissertation on his time commanding U.S. troops overseas, the associate said.
FBI agents contacted Petraeus, and he was told that sensitive, possibly classified documents related to Afghanistan were found on her computer. He assured investigators they did not come from him, and he mused to his associates that they were probably given to her on her reporting trips to Afghanistan by commanders she visited in the field there. The FBI concluded there was no security breach.
One associate also said Petraeus believes the documents described past operations and had already been declassified, although they might have still been marked as "secret." Broadwell had high security clearances on her own as part of her job as a reserve Army major working for military intelligence. But those clearances are only in effect when a soldier is on active duty, which she was not at the time she researched the Petraeus biography.
During a talk last month at the University of Denver, Broadwell caught attention when she said the CIA had detained people at a secret facility in Benghazi, Libya, and the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate and CIA base there was an effort to free those prisoners.
Obama issued an executive order in January 2009 stripping the CIA of its authority to take prisoners. The move meant the CIA was forbidden from operating secret jails across the globe as it had under President George W. Bush.
CIA spokesman Preston Golson said: "Any suggestion that the agency is still in the detention business is uninformed and baseless."
Broadwell did not say who told her about CIA activities in Libya. The video of Broadwell's speech was viewed on YouTube.
Petraeus, who resigned last week as the nation's head spy, and his family are said to be devastated over the affair, especially his wife Holly, who "is not exactly pleased right now," said Steve Boylan, a friend and former Petraeus spokesman who spoke to Petraeus over the weekend.
"Furious would be an understatement," Boylan told ABC's "Good Morning America." He said Petraeus ended the affair four months ago.
Members of Congress said they want to know more details about the FBI investigation that revealed the extramarital affair between Petraeus and Broadwell. They questioned when the retired general popped up in the FBI inquiry, whether national security was compromised and why they weren't told sooner.
"We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt," Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."
Petraeus quit Friday after acknowledging the affair. He has been married 38 years to Holly Petraeus, with whom he has two adult children, including a son who led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan as an Army lieutenant.
Broadwell, a 40-year-old graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and an Army Reserve officer, is married with two young sons.
According to a senior U.S. military official, Kelley, 37, who lives in Tampa, Fla., and serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military's Central Command and Special Operations Command are located. Staffers for Petraeus said Kelley and her husband were regular guests at events he held at Central Command headquarters.
Kelley has no official status and is not employed by the U.S. government, U.S. official said.
In a statement Sunday, Kelley and her husband, Scott, said: "We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children."
The military official who identified Kelley spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation. He said Kelley had received harassing emails from Broadwell, which led the FBI to examine her email account and eventually discover her relationship with Petraeus. It was not clear what led Broadwell to send the emails to Kelley.
The FBI contacted Petraeus and other intelligence officials, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked Petraeus to resign.
Boylan said Monday that Petraeus is keenly aware that he has injured his family while losing "one of the best jobs he ever had. He's devastated." The affair with Broadwell started about two months after Petraeus took the CIA post, Boylan said. Petraeus became CIA director in September 2011.
Petraeus' affair with Broadwell will be the subject of meetings Wednesday involving congressional intelligence committee leaders, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and CIA deputy director Michael Morell.
Petraeus had been scheduled to appear before congressional committees on Thursday to testify about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Morell was expected to testify in place of Petraeus, and lawmakers said he should have the answers to their questions. But Feinstein and others didn't rule out the possibility that Congress will compel Petraeus to testify about Benghazi at a later date, even though he's relinquished his job.
The FBI wrapped up the Petraeus case after interviewing Broadwell on Friday, Nov. 2, four days before the presidential election, a senior U.S. law enforcement official told NBC News.
Clapper was told by the Justice Department of the Petraeus investigation last week at about 5 p.m. on Election Day, and then called Petraeus and urged him to resign, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
FBI officials said the congressional committees weren't informed until Friday, one official said, because the matter started as a criminal investigation into harassing emails allegedly sent by Broadwell to Kelley.
Concerned that emails Petraeus exchanged with Broadwell raised the possibility of a security breach, the FBI brought the matter up with him directly, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.
Petraeus decided to quit, though he was breaking no laws by having an affair, officials said.