We’ve learned a lot more about the Petraeus sex scandal in the past 24 hours.
Based on the latest information, there seems to be a chance that the damage could end here — with general embarrassment, the destruction of a couple of high-profile careers, and some challenges for a few families.
There’s also a chance, however, that the scandal could continue to snowball, wreaking more havoc on the reputations of U.S. military and political brass.
The public investigation is now focused on a pair of mysterious Florida twins who have befriended a lot of powerful people. The private investigation, meanwhile, concerns computer hard drives seized from the house of ex-CIA director Petraeus’ mistress, Paula Broadwell, and the contents of hundreds of emails between U.S. General John Allen and one of the aforementioned twins.
Here’s where things stand:
- The mysterious twins are 37-year-old sisters of Lebanese descent, Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam. They grew up Philadelphia, and they now both live in Kelley’s house in Tampa.
- Kelley is the wife of Tampa-based surgeon Scott Kelley. She has three kids. Khawam is divorced and just went through brutal custody hearings with her ex-husband. The judge gave the husband sole custody of their son and basically said that Khawam is psychologically unstable. Khawam has yet to give up custody of her son.
- Khawam is a lawyer, but the most accurate job description for both sisters right now appears to be “socialite.” Kelley calls herself an “unpaid social liaison” to MacDill Air Force base in Tampa, home to U.S. Central Command. This job seems mainly to include hosting and attending parties and emailing with generals and FBI agents.
- Kelley is also, bizarrely, an “honorary consul” to South Korea, a position she has held since last summer. Aside from giving Kelley diplomatic licence plates that may allow her to park in special spaces, it’s not clear what else this title confers. Kelley seems to think she is entitled to “diplomatic protection,” but no one else seems to agree.
- Kelley appears to have been an extraordinarily determined and successful social climber. According to the Tampa Bay Times, she found her house by walking down the most prestigious street in town and knocking on doors until she found someone who would sell. She became famous within the military community for throwing over-the-top parties, with accessories like string quartets. There’s also an oil painting of her and her husband hanging in her house that you might want to see.
- Kelley and Khawam appear to be in serious money trouble. They have both racked up more than $3 million in debts. In the 10 years that Kelley and her husband have lived in Tampa, one or both have been the subject of at least nine lawsuits “seeking payment of real estate and credit card debts,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. These money troubles have not stopped Kelley, at least, from hosting lavish parties for military brass.
- Kelley and her husband once operated a fishy-looking “Cancer Foundation” out of their house. Most of the money the charity spent went to meals and travel. It’s not clear how any of these expenses supported cancer research.
- Kelley’s sister Khawam, a lawyer, has also had a fair share of legal and money troubles. She is currently embroiled in a nasty lawsuit with her former employer, whom she has accused of sexual harassment and other charges. The employer has fought back with court documents claiming Khawam has a “history of abusing the litigation process.” According to a bankruptcy petition she filed this year, Khawam lives with the Kelleys in Tampa, and owes $3.2 million in unpaid debt. According to the Chicago Tribune, Khawam was also involved in a brutal custody fight with her former husband, Grayson Wolfe, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capitalist who once worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. According to the New York Post, the judge in the case said she had lied under oath and filed bogus sex-harassment and child-abuse claims. She awarded sole custody to Wolfe.
- Kelley exchanged “hundreds” of emails with General John Allen and is said to have emailed or IMed with ex-General Petraeus on a near-daily basis, according to the AP. Allen’s emails were described as “flirtatious,” but, otherwise, the contents of these emails have not been revealed.
- Both General John Allen and ex-General Petraeus have adamantly denied having an affair with Kelley. Through an “official source,” Allen says he has never even been alone with her. A sexual relationship between either man and Kelley seems unlikely at this point.
- However … both Generals wrote letters to the judge in the Khawam custody case asking that the judge reconsider her sole-custody ruling. The basis for these letters was ostensibly the Generals seeing Khawam and her son at social events and observing that Khawam seemed to treat her son nicely. Senator John Kerry was also mentioned in Khawam’s court papers: She met him at a party on Martha’s Vineyard at a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee event.
- From an outside perspective, it seems highly unlikely that two four-star U.S. generals would intervene in a custody case based solely on observing two people at parties. The question that remains to be answered, therefore, is whether there was something more that motivated these letters (and, if so, what?).
- On Monday, Jill Kelley hired the same lawyer who defended John Edwards, and the same crisis PR person who represented Monica Lewinsky, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Vick.
So, that’s the sisters.
Then there’s Paula Broadwell — Petraeus’ biographer and mistress — and the possible involvement of other officials in our government in the scandal.
- This whole investigation was triggered, you will recall, when Paula Broadwell, General Petraeus’ mistress, sent anonymous harassing emails to Jill Kelley.
- The emails weren’t threatening, but the FBI agent assigned to investigate the case was apparently a friend of Kelley’s, and the FBI pushed forward. Later, the FBI agent emailed “shirtless photos” to Kelley and was removed from the case.
- At a speech in October, Paula Broadwell revealed some information about the Benghazi embassy attack that may have been classified. An investigation is ongoing into where she got this information and whether she has any other information.
- Many government officials, such as Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI director Robert Mueller, and House majority leader Eric Cantor, learned of the FBI’s investigation into Petraeus before the election and well before the public. The questions with regard to them, therefore, is what did they know, when did they know it, and what did they do with the information.
It has now been announced that Petraeus will testify before Congress tomorrow. We hope by then we’ll have some more answers.
SEE ALSO: Beautiful Twins At centre Of Scandal Schmoozed With Elite And Racked Up Millions In Debt
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