FBI agents last night searched the home of Paula Broadwell, the woman said to have had an extramarital affair with former CIA Director David H. Petraeus that led to his resignation last week.
Shelley Lynch, a spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Charlotte, North Carolina, field office, confirmed that agents entered Broadwell’s home in an upscale neighborhood of the city. The agents “brought cardboard boxes used for carrying papers and were on both floors of the home,” the Charlotte Observer reported.
The search marks the latest turn in a probe that has embroiled three families, cost Petraeus his job and spurred calls from U.S. lawmakers for an investigation of the FBI’s handling of the probe including when the White House and Congress were informed of the matter. President Barack Obama accepted Petraeus’s resignation on Nov. 9.
Three people -- all intelligence, military or congressional officials -- have identified Broadwell, who wrote “All In: The Education of David Petraeus,” as the woman who had an affair with him. There were no responses to an e-mail to Broadwell or phone messages left at her home.
A call and an e-mail yesterday to Robert F. Muse, Broadwell’s lawyer, weren’t returned.
The FBI investigation that turned up evidence of the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell began with a complaint from a Tampa, Florida, woman about harassing e-mails she had received. The woman has been identified by two law enforcement officials as Jill Kelley, described as a family friend of Petraeus and his wife, Holly.
The bureau traced the threatening e-mails to Broadwell. Her messages warned Kelley to stay away from Petraeus, said the officials briefed on the probe, who asked for anonymity to discuss information that hasn’t been released. The probe also found e-mails that showed an extramarital affair between Broadwell and Petraeus, they said.
While the FBI determined in its months-long investigation that there were no national security risks associated with Petraeus’s affair, they did discover sensitive information on Broadwell’s computer, according to a law enforcement official.
Kelley initially went to an agent in the FBI’s Tampa field office who was an acquaintance to report the threatening e- mails, said one of the officials. The Wall Street Journal reported last night that the agent, who hasn’t been identified, was barred from the case for inappropriate behavior.
“We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years,” Kelley and her husband Scott said in a Nov. 10 statement. “We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”
Last night, Lynch, the FBI spokeswoman, declined to say what the agents were seeking in Broadwell’s home.
The FBI investigation included interviews with Petraeus and Broadwell, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the probe. The last interview, with Broadwell, took place the week before Election Day, one official said.
Last week, Petraeus, 60, resigned and admitted in a statement to having an affair. During his career, he rose to the rank of four-star general and led the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before retiring to become head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Broadwell, 40, graduated with academic, fitness and leadership honors from West Point, according to the Penguin Speakers Bureau. During more than 15 years of military service, she has served with the U.S. intelligence community, Special Operations Command and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces, the speakers bureau said.
Vernon Loeb, a Washington Post editor who served as Broadwell’s co-author on the Petraeus book, said that he was “dumbfounded” when news broke last week of the extramarital affair. In an article posted last night on the newspaper’s website, Loeb wrote that he never anticipated the relationship between Petraeus and Broadwell went beyond subject and biographer.
“I still have no idea when the affair actually began,” Loeb wrote. “I sent Broadwell an e-mail Monday, letting her know that I was writing this piece and welcoming any comment she chose to make. I have yet to hear back from her.”
In her book preface, posted online, she said she first met Petraeus in 2006 as a graduate student at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government when he was visiting Harvard.
Broadwell described Petraeus as a mentor, and she said they went on “a lot of runs” in Kabul while she was researching her book. She said the general’s nickname was “Peaches.”
In a Nov. 5 Newsweek article she wrote about Petraeus’s rules for living, Broadwell lists as No. 5: “We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear view mirrors -- drive on and avoid making them again.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee will investigate why the FBI failed to immediately notify the White House and Congress when it discovered that Petraeus was involved in an extramarital affair.
“We weren’t briefed. I don’t know who made that decision,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, said yesterday on MSNBC. “It’s been like peeling an onion. Every day, another peel comes off, and you see a whole new dimension to this.”
Although the probe had been under way for several months, according to two law enforcement officials, it wasn’t until last week that the FBI notified U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He notified the White House. Petraeus met with Obama on Nov. 8 and the president accepted his resignation the next day.
The probe took time to unfold, one of the law enforcement officials said. It wasn’t obvious who owned the e-mail account attached to the threatening messages, and the FBI had to track down the owner. As the investigation continued, and Broadwell was tied to the account, the messages with another unknown account were also uncovered, the official said.
That account belonged to Petraeus, adding a new element to the investigation, the official said.
Senior Justice Department officials were briefed on the probe for the first time in September and they continued to receive updates, the officials said.
The investigation looked into whether the e-mails constituted a national security threat, one official said. While it was determined that there were no national security risks, the probe continued as a criminal investigation into the threatening e-mails -- a primary reason cited by officials for the agency not informing Capitol Hill of the probe.
CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell has taken over as acting director with Petraeus’s departure. Obama said he is “completely confident that the CIA will continue to thrive and carry out its essential mission.”
Morell is scheduled to meet with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, and Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the panel, on Nov. 14, according to a House aide.
A fitness buff and avid runner who earned his Ph.D in international relations from Princeton University, Petraeus had a distinguished 37-year military career. He co-authored the army’s counterinsurgency manual, which became the blueprint for forces in Iraq under his leadership.
Retired Army Colonel Steve Boylan, a former spokesman for Petraeus in Iraq, said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the affair began about two months after he took over as CIA director in mid-2011 and ended four months ago.
“The affair started after he had been in the CIA, after he had retired from the Army,” said Boylan, who said he spoke to Petraeus over the weekend. Petraeus “deeply regrets” that it happened, Boylan said.