WASHINGTON — The collapse of the impressive career of CIA Director David Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening emails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials.
The recipient of the emails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, the Washington Post said it was told by three officials who requested anonymity. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit emails between Broadwell and Petraeus.
When Petraeus' name surfaced, FBI investigators were concerned the CIA director's personal email account had been hacked and that national security had been threatened. Further investigation, including FBI interviews with Broadwell and Petraeus, led to the discovery that the two were engaged in an affair, the Post reported.
The identity of the woman who received the emails was not disclosed, and the nature of her relationship with Petraeus is unknown. The woman did not work at the CIA and was not Petraeus' wife, Holly; the emails indicated that Broadwell perceived the other woman as a threat to her relationship with Petraeus, the officials said.
Attempts to reach Broadwell and her relatives have been unsuccessful, and she has not made a public statement since she was linked with Petraeus on Friday.
Petraeus, a retired four-star Army general who was once seen as a potential presidential candidate, said Friday that he was resigning as CIA chief because he had been involved in an extramarital affair. He has been married for 37 years and has two grown children.
Broadwell is married and has two young children.
Other details emerged Saturday indicating that the Petraeus allegations became a secret election-night drama for the Obama administration. That evening, the Justice Department informed the director of national intelligence, James Clapper Jr., that their investigation had unearthed compromising information about the CIA director, the Post said it was told by a senior U.S. intelligence official.
Clapper then spoke with Petraeus and urged him to resign, notifying the White House the next day. That sequence has become a source of controversy, raising questions among some members of Congress about why key intelligence committees were not notified earlier and why the FBI waited before informing the administration about a probe that had stumbled onto embarrassing details about the CIA chief.
The investigators first interviewed Petraeus about two weeks ago, the officials said. They reviewed the evidence with him but did not suggest that he should resign.