FBI Probe Began With Broadwell's 'Harassing' Emails

Investigators only stumbled on her affair with Petraeus

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 10, 2012 1:50 PM CST

(Newser) – The FBI's investigation into David Petraeus started because someone complained that Paula Broadwell—his biographer and alleged lover—had fired off "harassing" emails, an official tells the New York Times. The official didn't say who complained, but said it wasn't a government official or family member. A congressional official privy to insider details said he heard the FBI probe began with two women: "It didn’t start with Petraeus, but in the course of the investigation they stumbled across him," the official said. "We were stunned."

In probing Broadwell's emails, the FBI stumbled on exchanges with Petraeus that proved they were having a fling. That set off alarm bells "on larger security issues," said the government official—but the FBI found no wider security breach stemming from Petraeus' use of a personal email account to write Broadwell. What's more, there was no wider conspiracy afoot: "People think that because it’s the CIA director, it must involve bigger issues," the official said. "Think of a small circle of people who know each other." (Read more about Petraeus' resignation or a letter written to an advice columnist—possibly by Broadwell's husband.)

Davis Petraeus waves after an armed forces farewell tribute and retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011.
Davis Petraeus waves after an armed forces farewell tribute and retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
In this Jan. 15, 2012, photo, Paula Broadwell, author of the David Petraeus biography All In, poses for photos in Charlotte, NC.
In this Jan. 15, 2012, photo, Paula Broadwell, author of the David Petraeus biography "All In," poses for photos in Charlotte, NC.   (WBT)
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