The David Petraeus affair: A comprehensive timeline [Updated]

New twists and dime-novel characters pop up daily, but the basic story of the celebrated general's downfall is falling into place

Then-CIA Director-desigate Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in June 2011: On Monday the FBI removed boxes of materials from the home of Petraeus' mistress, Paula Br
(Image credit: AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

This article — originally published on Nov. 13, 2012 — was last updated on Nov. 20, 2012. Scroll down for the latest news.

Congress wants to know who knew what about former CIA Director David Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and when. A lot of questions remain — both serious and of the more conspiratorial nature — about the FBI investigation that exposed the affair, the details of the affair itself, and whether any crimes or security breaches occurred in the growing web of deceit. As reporters unearth new facts and colorful characters — a rogue FBI agent obsessed with the case, and a well-connected Tampa socialite who apparently inadvertently started the ball rolling — lots of details are falling into place. Here's a look at what we know about the career-ending Petraeus affair:

April 27, 2006

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Lt. Gen. Petraeus gives a speech at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where Paula Broadwell is working toward her master's degree. She introduces herself at a post-speech dinner, and he offers to help in her research on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency.

January 26, 2007

Gen. Petraeus wins Senate confirmation, 81-0, to command all U.S. forces in Iraq.


Broadwell decides to write about Petraeus' leadership style for her doctoral dissertation. She interviews him over email, then reportedly seals his cooperation by matching his six-minute-mile pace in a run along the Potomac River in Washington.

October 13, 2008

Petraeus takes over as head of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa. He befriends Jill Kelley, a social liaison to the base, and her husband, Scott.

June 30, 2010

Petraeus wins Senate confirmation to take command of the war in Afghanistan. Over the next year, Broadwell visits Petraeus six times to interview him and his staff for what has evolved from a dissertation into an authorized biography. Petraeus' Afghanistan staff notes, sometimes with disapproval, the unprecedented access Petraeus gives Broadwell.

August 31, 2011

Petraeus retires from the Army, after nearly four decades in uniform, to take over as director of the CIA.

September 6, 2011

Petraeus is sworn in as CIA director.

November 2011

Petraeus and Broadwell begin their extramarital affair, according to retired Army Col. Steve Boylan, a former spokesman for Petraeus.

January 24, 2012

Broadwell's book, All In: The Education of David Petraeus, is released. Broadwell embarks on a promotional tour for the glowing biography.

May 2012

Broadwell sends a series of harassing, mildly threatening emails to Kelley from anonymous accounts, reportedly accusing her of flirting with "him." Kelley complains to an FBI agent she knows, and he passes the case on to his local office. The FBI decides to look into the cyber-stalking allegations, reportedly because the sender seems to know a lot about the CIA director's activities.

July 2012

The Petraeus-Broadwell affair ends, according to Boylan. About this time, Petraeus reportedly tells Broadwell to stop sending harassing emails to Kelley; according to The Washington Post, the FBI had told Kelley that the emails were from Broadwell, and she shared the name with Petraeus when she informed him of the emails.

Late summer 2012

FBI agents have ascertained that Broadwell and Petraeus were likely involved in an extramarital affair, and that there was no national security breach from Petraeus' private email account. FBI Director Robert Mueller III is informed of the affair, as are senior Justice Department officials, possibly including Attorney General Eric Holder.

September 2012

FBI agents interview Broadwell, who reportedly admits to the affair and hands over her computer to be searched. The agents find material labeled classified, which she insists didn't come from Petraeus. Petraeus, in a subsequent interview, also denies handing Broadwell classified information, and the FBI finds no evidence to contradict them.

October 26, 2012

Speaking at the University of Denver, Broadwell discusses some potentially classified information about a CIA prison at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, citing it as a possible cause of the September 2012 attack. (The CIA denies that it detained any prisoners, something Obama barred.)

October 27, 2012

The FBI agent Kelley contacted about the emails calls House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to inform him about the affair. The agent (incorrectly) believes that the investigation has stalled — his "worldview" led him to suspect a politically motivated cover-up to help Obama, a law enforcement official tells The New York Times. The call was set up by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.).

October 31, 2012

The FBI interviews Petraeus one last time about the affair, concluding that no charges are warranted in the case. Cantor's office contacts the FBI's chief of staff to report the conversation with the FBI agent. Referring to the subsequent decision to tell the Obama administration about the affair, a person close to the investigation tells The Washington Post, "I don't know if it would have taken this course without Cantor." The New York Times' law enforcement source disagrees, saying the FBI agent's self-styled "whistle-blowing" was "a little embarrassing" but had no effect on the inquiry.

November 6, 2012

The Justice Department tells Petraeus' boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, about the affair. Clapper urges Petraeus to resign.

November 7, 2012

On Petraeus' 60th birthday, intelligence officials inform White House staff of the affair.

November 8, 2012

Obama is told about the affair. Petraeus meets with the president and tenders his resignation.

November 9, 2012

On Broadwell's 40th birthday, Obama accepts the resignation, and Petraeus publicly admits to the affair. After the resignation is announced but before Broadwell is identified as the mistress, Scott Broadwell emails friends to cancel Paula's birthday party.

November 12, 2012

FBI agents search the Broadwells' home in Charlotte, N.C., taking away boxes of material. The Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI agent who started the ball rolling had sent shirtless photos of himself to Kelley well before the investigation began; became "obsessed" with the case, even though he wasn't assigned to it, and had to be ordered to back off; and is now under investigation by the FBI's internal affairs unit. And in a new twist, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opens an internal investigation of "inappropriate communications" of a reportedly flirtatious nature between Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Jill Kelley.

November 13, 2012

The FBI continues to investigate how Broadwell obtained classified documents, according to law enforcement sources. But much of the focus has shifted to Kelley: The well-connected socialite tried to get the FBI to call off the investigation over the summer, as it became clear that her personal information was becoming part of a snowballing investigation; she and her husband ran an iffy, now-bankrupt cancer charity; and both Allen and Petraeus wrote strongly supportive letters to help Kelley's twin sister, Natalie Khawam, in her (unsuccessful) child custody battle with her ex-husband. The Wall Street Journal reports that Allen was dragged into the inquiry because Broadwell sent him (and other senior military officials) emails under the pseudonym KelleyPatrol, warning about getting entangled with the Tampa "seductress," and Allen forwarded the email to Kelley.

November 14, 2012

The FBI agent who persuaded his colleagues to start the investigation on Jill Kelley's behalf is identified as Frederick W. Humphries II. One of the agents who foiled the 1999 millennium bomb plot, Humphries, 47, is described by colleagues as "hard charging" and relentless; a representative for the agent says the shirtless photo he once sent Kelley was a joke and not at all sexual in nature. FBI Director Mueller and his deputy, Sean Joyce, brief the House and Senate intelligence committees on the Petraeus investigation, and the former CIA chief agrees to address the intelligence committees on the Benghazi attack. The Army revokes Broadwell's security clearance.

November 15, 2012

The CIA says it has opened an "exploratory" internal investigation into Petraeus' actions, reportedly focused largely on whether he improperly used his security detail, official transportation, or other perks of his office to facilitate his affair with Broadwell. In his first post-resignation interview, Petraeus tells CNN that he didn't give Broadwell any classified information and stepped down solely because of the extramarital relationship. In an interesting what-if, Broadwell had considered an offer from "Republican moneymen" to run for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina, TIME reports, but, she told friends in July, "in an irritated tone," that Petraeus had dissuaded her.

November 18, 2012

Politico reports that Petraeus has lawyered up, hiring elite Washington attorney Robert Barnett. Barnett is best known for securing lucrative book deals for everyone from President Obama to Sarah Palin, but Petraeus has reportedly hired him for his other notable talent: Easing public officials back into private life. Paula Broadwell returns to her Charlotte home for the first time since news of her affair broke.

November 19, 2012

Broadwell hires noted Washington public relations firm Glover Park Group, presumably to rehabilitate her public image. For reasons unknown, Jill Kelley's twin sister Natalie Khawam hires Gloria Allred, the celebrity lawyer who seems to turn up in every sex-related scandal.

Sources: The Associated Press (2), Harvard, The New York Times (2,3,4,5), PBS NewsHour (2), Reuters (2), TIME, The Wall Street Journal (2), The Washington Post (2), Wired

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