The Slatest

The Most Unbelievable Details of the Petraeus Scandal (So Far)

David Petraeus returns from a break during a congressional on Capitol Hill on September 10, 2007

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

There’s plenty that we still don’t know about the still-developing story of David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, and a potentially related e-mail relationship between Gen. John Allen and a Tampa socialite. What is clear, however, is that whatever it is that is unfolding before us is weird, and only getting weirder with each incremental development and new cast member that is thrust onto the public stage.

With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of some of the strangest and juiciest details—some simply coincidental or amusing, others decidedly lurid or newsworthy—that have combined to create the overall sense of intrigue that currently pervades this narrative.


Hindsight: Broadwell had made a string of media appearances earlier this year to promote her book that are incredibly awkward in retrospect, including a double entendre-filled segment on The Daily Show. She then went one better during a February interview, declaring that she was “not in love with David Petraeus” seemingly without provocation.


The Shirtless FBI: After receiving anonymous, threatening emails about her contact with Petraeus, Tampa socialite and Petraeus friend Jill Kelley turned to an FBI agent she knew for help. That agent, however, was later barred from the investigation in part because he had allegedly sent shirtless pictures of himself to Kelley at some point before the FBI probe began.

Classified Info: When the FBI traced the emails back to Broadwell, they found classified documents and information on her personal computer. It’s not clear where she got these documents, but both Petraeus and Broadwell have denied they came from him.


Naughty Neighborhood: Paula Broadwell and Rielle Hunter (John Edwards’ mistress’) both live in the upscale Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C.

Karl Rove: GOP strategist Karl Rove tweeted a photo of himself and Broadwell together in June.

High-Powered Lawyer: Jill Kelley, who claims total innocence of wrongdoing, has made some high-profile hires. She has retained D.C.-based lawyer Abbe Lowell, who has represented President Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Jack Abramoff during their times of need, along with PR specialist Judy Smith, whose client list includes Michael Vick, Monica Lewinsky, and Kobe Bryant. 

Scott Squared: Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley are both married with young children to doctors named Scott.


Not One General But Two: Jill Kelley allegedly exchanged 20,000 to 30,000 pages of “potentially inappropriate” emails with a four-star general. Only the general in question wasn’t Petraeus, but instead Gen. John Allen, a close friend of Petraeus who had recently been nominated by President Obama to be Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of the U.S. European Command. That nomination has since been put on hold.


Twins: Petraeus and Allen both assisted Jill Kelley’s identical twin sister, Natalie Khawam, in her bitter custody battle during which she was deemed psychologically unstable. They both wrote gushing letters on her behalf, asking for the judge to grant her custody of her only son. Oh yeah, and Khawam is a Georgetown Law grad who works on whistleblower cases.

Legal Trouble: Kelley is no stranger to legal trouble herself. She and her husband have been charged in nine different lawsuits over the course of the last few years. At one point, they reportedly owed more than $2.2 million to the bank, and had rung up large credit card bills.

Food Fight: Kelley and Khawam have found themselves in front of a camera before, but under more friendly circumstances. They both appeared together in an episode of the Food Network’s Food Fight, during which they cooked alligator, competing against a set of twin brothers.

Lost ID: Paula Broadwell’s driver’s license was recently found by a jogger in a Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park. Her lawyer will not confirm her whereabouts as of late Tuesday afternoon.