“What we did was conduct the investigation in the way that we normally conduct criminal investigations,” Holder told reporters. “We do not share, outside the Justice Department, outside the FBI, the facts of ongoing investigations.”
But the criminal investigation remains open. No final determination has been made on criminal charges, according to law enforcement officials. Investigators are focusing on classified information that they have found on the computer and in the home of Paula Broadwell, the author of a book about Petraeus and the woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to Holder and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, asking for a timeline and a briefing on the investigation. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said she still thinks the panel’s leadership should have been briefed on “an operationally sensitive matter.”
Senior Justice Department officials had known since the summer about an investigation involving Broadwell and threatening e-mails she had sent to a woman in Tampa. Those e-mails concerned investigators because they indicated that the sender knew the travel plans and movements of Petraeus and Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
At the time, Justice Department officials were also told that Petraeus was having an affair with Broadwell. They were informed that investigators, however, had found no evidence of a national security breach.
Holder said Thursday that it was not until two months later, after the FBI completed a “critical interview” in November, that the department was ready to disclose the information it had to Petraeus’s boss, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.
The “critical interview,” officials have said, was a reference to the last interview investigators conducted with Broadwell, when she said Nov. 2 that Petraeus had not provided her with classified information — an assertion the CIA director had also made Oct. 29 when the FBI interviewed him.
Four days after the interview with Broadwell, about 5 p.m. on Election Day, Deputy FBI Director Sean Joyce notified Clapper about the inquiry. Clapper called Petraeus that night and advised him to resign.
Law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the election was not a factor in their decision on when to notify the executive branch.