The man at the center of the scandal was — until recently — one of America’s most honored and influential military officers. Celebrated for his counterinsurgency work in Iraq and command of allied troops in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus left the Army in July 2011 to take up a new role as director of the CIA — until his sudden resignation on Nov. 9, admitting to having an extramarital affair and apologizing for his “extremely poor judgment.” The FBI first learned of the affair over the summer after Florida socialite and Petraeus family friend Jill Kelley complained to an agent she knew about receiving harassing e-mails from Petraeus’ biographer Paula Broadwell. Petraeus allegedly began an affair with Broadwell, a 40-year-old West Point graduate and married mother of two, in late 2011. Petraeus’ resignation came just days before he was expected to testify before Congress on the death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya — although lawmakers say he will still be called to testify eventually.
(MORE: Beneath Glowing Image, Petraeus Had His Critics)
Petraeus’ affair is particularly thorny because Broadwell enjoyed “unprecedented access” to the CIA director both in the U.S. and during his travels to all corners of the world while she wrote the biography. Investigators worry that their affair potentially involves the exchange of confidential government and security details. The two are thought to have also exchanged pages of emails to each other, using a trick where both parties allegedly wrote their messages using the same covert Gmail account and saved them in drafts, thus avoiding the data trail created by actually sending the emails.
Sadi Othman, Petraeus’ senior advisor during his service in Iraq, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday that the affair was “uncharacteristic of the general,” and was the only time he was unfaithful to his wife. Othman added that Petraeus is remorseful and had offered no hints of any wrongdoing before the affair came to light.
Petraeus, 60, has been married to wife Holly since 1974; they have two children.
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