One law enforcement official said that after the final interview with Broadwell, investigators were satisfied that Petraeus did not give her classified documents and would not be charged with a crime. It was at that point that they decided they could share the information about his affair.
But other law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation said that no final decision has been made on possible charges against anyone involved in the matter.
Among the new information uncovered by the Post’s Greg Jaffe and Anne Gearan, the Petraeus biographer was asked to leave her doctoral program at Harvard and apparently misstated her accomplishments at West Point.
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“While an investigation is ongoing, how can you say that a decision has been made not to charge anyone?” said one law enforcement official with knowledge of the case. “How can you say that Petraeus is not being investigated anymore? The whole situation is still under investigation.”
Law enforcement officials have said that the investigation at this point is focused on the source of the many classified documents found in Broadwell’s possession and the possible mishandling and storage of them.
James M. Garland, who was Holder’s deputy chief of staff from 2008 to 2010, said the long-standing rule is that criminal investigations are not shared outside the FBI or Justice Department — and are even kept from the civil side of the Justice Department.
“We want our law enforcement agencies to apply the laws dispassionately and without any political interference,” said Garland, a partner at Covington & Burling. “That is why there is this bright line prohibiting the sharing of criminal investigative information with the White House unless it is a threat to national security.”
Garland said the rules also protect the privacy and reputations of people who are under investigation. The prohibition covers disclosures to administration officials and members of Congress in order to avoid leaks that could compromise an ongoing investigation or give rise to accusations of political influence, according to former Justice Department lawyers.
The discovery that the director of the CIA was involved in an extramarital affair complicated the issue because the Justice Department’s rules collided with a potential threat to national security.
Although Holder said the investigation did not indicate there was a national security threat, officials have suggested that the possibility of Petraeus’s affair exposing him to blackmail forced the Justice Department to inform the executive branch.
“At that point,” said Matthew Miller, a former director of the Justice Department’s public affairs office, “it was a policy decision as to whether or not Petraeus was fit to remain in office.”