The Cable

Justice Department Recommends Charges for Petraeus

America’s most famous general could face prison time for providing his mistress with confidential information, according to a New York Times report.

Petraeus Testifies At His Senate Confirmation Hearing For CIA Director
WASHINGTON - JUNE 23: U.S. Gen. David Petraeus speaks during a confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee June 23, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Gen. Petraeus will become the director of the Central Intelligence Agency if confirmed. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The FBI and Justice Department prosecutors are recommending Gen. David Petraeus face federal charges for allegedly leaking confidential information to his mistress, the New York Times reported Friday. When that relationship was made public, Petraeus was forced to resign as director of the CIA in November 2012.

The recommendation leaves the decision on whether or not to seek an indictment up to Attorney General Eric Holder, who has not yet announced whether he will follow the prosecutors’ recommendations. Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Justice Department, declined to comment on the investigation Friday.

Petraeus’ affair with Paula Broadwell, an Army reserve officer who worked closely alongside Petraeus while writing his biography, was made public when she sent threatening emails to Jill Kelley, a longtime friend of Petraeus.

The Justice Department is investigating if, during the course of his relationship with Broadwell, which is said to have begun in 2011, Petraeus granted her access to his CIA email.

Petraeus, a retired four-star general, denies sharing classified information with Broadwell. But after his resignation in 2012, FBI agents found classified documents on Broadwell’s computer, which raised red flags and prompted further investigation.

The scandal dented Petraeus’s public image. The former general had been widely considered a possible presidential contender after he led American forces first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan, beginning in 2010. He was tapped as head of the CIA by President Obama in 2011.

Shortly after the scandal, Obama said in a public statement that he had no reason to believe Petraeus had leaked any information that posed a serious threat to the nation’s security. “My main hope right now is — is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career,” Obama said.

Although Holder was expected to make a decision about whether or not to pursue the indictment by the end of last year, his lack of a decision to do so has reportedly caused some consternation among Justice Department investigators who argue that less senior officials have been prosecuted for what they consider to be lesser charges.

Alex Wong/Getty Images News

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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