The Patraeus affairJill Kelly’s FBI friend helped launch the investigation, then tipped lawmakers

Published 13 November 2012

Jill Kelly, a Petraeus family friend, was warned in a series of anonymous e-mails not to get too close to CIA director David Petraeus; Kelly contacted a friend who worked in the FBI Tampa office, and he persuaded the agency cyber squad to investigate; in late October, fearing that FBI director Robert Muller would sweep the investigation’s results under the rug, he contacted Rep. David Reichert (R-Washington), who, in turn, alerted the majority whip,  Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia);  the Tampa agent is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI

Jill Kelly, the 37-year old Tampa resident and a friend of the Petraeus family, had a problem: she was receiving what she considered to be unsigned harassing e-mails telling her to stop having romantic plans about CIA David Petraeus. Kelly, a married woman who was not romantically involved with Petraeus, took her concerns, and printed copies of the e-mails, to a friend of hers – and FBI agent in the Tampa office.

That friend, in the past, tried to get close to Kelly, even sending her several shirtless photos of himself, but was rebuffed in these efforts.

Still, when Kelly, in mid-May, came to him for help, he responded. He took the e-mails to the FBI’s cybercrime unit. Experts say that typically, the FBI would not get involved in cases such as these – but that the agency’s experts noticed that the e-mail warning Kelly off had a surprising amount of accurate information about the CIA’s director schedule and activities. Thus, one of the e-mails claimed the Kelly sat next to Petraeus in certain event in Washington, DC, and that she had her hand on his knee.

How did the writer know not only the time and place of the event – but also the sitting arrangements? The FBI cyber squad analysts noticed several such references to Patraeus’s schedule, references that could have come only from someone who was close to him and aware of his daily habits and schedule.

The FBI agents brought their concerns to federal prosecutors, and they authorized a deeper investigation.

They found out that the unsigned e-mails came from several dummy accounts, and it did not take the agency long to discover that Paula Broadwell was the owner of these dummy accounts.

On Monday evening, FBI agents were seen hauling several boxes of documents from Broadwell’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The role of Kelly’s friend in the Tampa office did not end with him bringing the case to his superiors at the FBI office. It appears that Kelly’s request for his help caused this friend to develop an obsession with the case. He became so nosy and meddling, that he had to be warned by his superiors to back off or his job would be on the line. He was removed from the investigation in mid-summer, and was no longer invited to briefings or shown documents about the case’s progress.

The FBI interviewed both Broadwell and Petraeus, and both admitted to their affair (which ended in January this year). The FBI investigators concluded that no crimes have been committed, and that there were no security breaches. The last part of the investigation was one more interview with Broadwell on Friday, 2 November (although the visit by FBI agents to her home on Monday night may indicate another that the investigation is yet to run its course).

Hill lawmakers, even those on the intelligence committees, were not told of the FBI investigation because the agency’s protocol requires that details of an investigation not be shared with people outside the agency until the investigation is concluded.

Kelly’s old Tampa friend, however, was growing impatient. Being frozen out of the investigation, and not given details of its progress or conclusions, he became convinced that FBI director Robert Muller intended to sweep the whole thing under the rug. He took it upon himself to prevent that.

On 27 October he called Representative Dave Reichert (R-Washington), and told him about the investigation. Reichert called Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Virginia). Cantor, after waiting a few days, called Muller on Wednesday, 31 October to find out what was going on.

It appears that Muller, aware that a concluding report would be written on Friday, 2 November, after the final interview with Broadwell, told Cantor that the investigation would be concluded by the end of the week.

By the end of the day Friday, Muller delivered the report about the investigation to Attorney General Eric Holder.

It is not clear what, and how much, Holder knew before Friday, 2 November.

President Obama was presented with the investigation’s conclusions on Wednesday, 7 November.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Kelly’s friend, the Tampa FBI agent who persuaded the agency to launch the investigation and who, in late October, called Representative Reichert is now under investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility, the internal-affairs arm of the FBI.