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Women in Petraeus scandal had visited White House

Friday - 11/16/2012, 7:05pm  ET

By JIM KUHNHENN
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The two women at the center of the David Petraeus scandal _ the biographer with whom he had an extramarital affair and the socialite who received worrisome emails that led investigators to uncover the illicit relationship _ visited the White House on separate and apparently unrelated occasions. Neither woman met with President Barack Obama during their visits.

Petraeus resigned as CIA director last week after acknowledging an affair with writer Paula Broadwell. In briefings Friday with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the retired four-star general was apologetic and regretful and insisted that his resignation was related only to his personal behavior.

Paula Broadwell, who was writing a book about Petraeus and eventually became his paramour, attended meetings in June 2009 and June 2011 on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is located in the White House complex, a White House official said.

Jill Kelley, the Tampa, Fla., socialite who initiated the investigation that revealed the affair, and her twin sister had two "courtesy" meals at the White House mess as guests of a midlevel White House aide in September and October, the official said. Kelley and her family also received a White House tour on the weekend before the Nov. 6 election.

The White House visits by Broadwell and Kelley illustrate the wide-ranging access both women enjoyed because of their ties with Petraeus, Gen. John Allen and others in the close-knit military community. The White House official discussed their visits on condition of anonymity because the visitors logs being cited have yet to be made public.

The FBI began an investigation after Kelley turned over anonymous emails that had been sent to her and Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Kelley was a friend of both Petraeus and Allen and had become a social liaison between the Tampa civilian community and the military at MacDill Air Force Base.

One anonymous email traced to Broadwell warned Allen to stay away from Kelley. FBI agents ultimately found emails between Petraeus and Broadwell that led them to believe the two were having an affair.

Kelley did not meet with any senior White House officials during any of her visits, the White House official said. The midlevel aide who hosted Kelley had met the Kelley family at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, said the White House official, who would not identify the aide.

Kelley boasted about her White House visits in emails to acquaintances. In an email to a Tampa Bay Times reporter on Sept. 28, published by the newspaper, Kelley wrote: "Btw I was made the (honorary) Ambassador to US Central Command's Coalition!" she told a Times reporter in a Sept. 28 email. "In addition to that, I was just recently appointed to be the Honorary Consulate General to South Korea! I'm in DC today _ just left from breakfast at the White House. . . . I really hope to see you soon!"

Days before the Petraeus scandal broke, Kelley emailed Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: "I was at the WH with my friends in the Administration this weekend _ the stress was surreal!" she wrote. "But glad POTUS has been reelected!"

As for Broadwell, she at no time set foot in the Executive Mansion, the White House official said. Her June 2009 visit was to meet a national security staffer working on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy matters. In the June 2011 visit, Broadwell was one of 20 participants in a briefing on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy that occurred shortly before Obama delivered a national address announcing the start of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

The White House official said that meeting was not listed in public White House visitor logs because it met a national security exemption to White House disclosure policy.

Largely out of public view in the week since his resignation, Petraeus was whisked into private meetings with lawmakers Friday amid the sort of clandestine atmosphere that befits a spy. A network of underground hallways was used to smuggle the retired general into a secure room beneath the Capitol to escape a clamorous crowd of photographers and television cameras. Police closed down entire corridors in the Capitol.

Members of Congress said the arrangements were designed to spare Petraeus embarrassment and humiliation. Before the scandal, he famously cultivated personal relationships with journalists and walked through the front door of the Capitol and greeted reporters when visiting Congress.

After more than four hours, Petraeus left the Capitol much the way he entered and was seen departing in a two-vehicle motorcade. About 20 minutes later, The Associated Press photographed Petreaus entering his home _ one of the only public images of him since he resigned.

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