The Washington Post reports that the FBI investigation stumbled across David Petraeus’s affair while investigating threatening emails allegedly sent by his mistress Paula Broadwell — some of them from Petraeus’s own email account:
The collapse of the impressive career of CIA Director David H. Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials with knowledge of the episode.
The recipient of the e-mails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, according to the officials. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and a Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus, the officials said. …
The law enforcement officials did not provide an exact timeline for the investigation, but they said the inquiry started several months ago. They said investigators thought they were dealing with a routine harassment case until some communications were traced to a private e-mail account belonging to Petraeus.
Broadwell wasn’t charged for accessing Petraeus’s email account, and WSJ reports that the two my have shared access to it:
Over the course of the probe, prosecutors realized there wasn’t a cyber-breach. Instead, Mr. Petraeus had shared some access to the account with Ms. Broadwell, possibly to exchange messages, these people said.
A shared email account would be one way to communicate without actually sending the messages (you could just save them as drafts) and leaving a digital trail that could be intercepted by spouses, the FBI, or other intel agencies.
We don’t know all the details, but sending anonymous email threats sounds like pretty erratic behavior. Perhaps that was a bigger concern to the FBI than the affair itself. The shared account reportedly included a trove of personal messages, which could have caused a lot of problems in the hands of someone in an emotionally unsteady state.
The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that classified information was also found on Broadwell’s computer (Petraeus said he was not the source), and Arutz Sheva notes that she discussed potentially secret details about the Benghazi attack during a recent speech.