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 on Monday.
Petraeus told these associates his relationship with the second woman, Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, was platonic, though his biographer-turned-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.
Petraeus, who led U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned his CIA post Friday, acknowledging his extramarital affair with Broadwell and expressing deep regret.
New details of the investigation that brought an end to his storied career emerged as President Barack Obama hunted for a new CIA director and members of Congress questioned why the months-long probe was kept quiet for so long.
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 reported 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, a law-enforcement official 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.