The FBI special agent who brought the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell cyberstalking case to the attention of law enforcement recently testified that the FBI handled the case under political pressure because of the 2012 presidential election, “marginalizing” and making crude insinuations about the victim in the case, Jill Kelley, whom they cast as “some femme fatale.”
In the redacted March 20 deposition, obtained from a source by CNN, Special Agent Frederick W. Humphries II claimed under oath that he “was told by supervisors that” the 2012 presidential election “would explain the potential reason why there was so much interference” in the case “from headquarters, that nobody wanted this case during an election cycle.”
The deposition is part of the lawsuit brought by Dr. Scott and Jill Kelley against government agencies, departments and major figures in the Obama administration for allegedly defaming their character in the Petraeus-Broadwell sex scandal.
The affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, his biographer-turned lover, brought a disgraced end to the decorated general’s career.
Though the Kelleys were the victims of the original cyberstalking case, as the Petraeus scandal exploded in the public, Jill Kelley’s name was dragged through the mud by unnamed Obama administration and law enforcement officials and many in the media painted her in a particularly unflattering light, the subject of the Kelley’s lawsuit.
Petraeus pleaded guilty last month to one federal charge of removing and retaining classified information, having improperly shared his black books with Broadwell and lied about it to the FBI. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday.
All charges against Broadwell were dropped in December 2012.
Humphries testified he believed Kelley’s name had been leaked by someone at FBI headquarters “and it seemed to be a purposeful attempt to discredit both Mrs. Kelley and myself.”
Humphries said in his deposition he was confused by FBI’s leaders’ focus on Jill Kelley instead of Broadwell, whom they identified as the cyberstalker as early as June 2012. He testified her actions compromised security of high-level military intelligence personnel and information, but for some reason higher-ups in the FBI kept interfering in what seemed to him to be a fairly straightforward case. In one incident, FBI agents were called back from the airport as they were about to fly to North Carolina to interview Broadwell.
All the while, the FBI kept shifting focus on the victims in the case, Humphries testified, or more specifically on Jill Kelley. He testified he would occasionally hear “lewd comments” from FBI agents about Kelley, including one individual making “a comment that he was pleased that Mrs. Kelley was in the Citizens’ Academy and that [he] had nominated her because of her [big] breasts.”
“I couldn’t understand why there was so much animosity” against Jill Kelley amongst his FBI superiors, Humphries testified.
“[I]t was stated in some ways and reflected in the body language that their view was that Jill Kelley had sort of brought this on herself and was some femme fatale,” he said.
He wondered if this warped view of the case was rooted in “ineptness, incompetence or was politically motivated,” he testified.
A request for comment made by CNN to a representative of Paula Broadwell was not met by press time.
Alan Raul, an attorney for the Kelleys, also declined comment to CNN on Sunday, as did Petraeus attorney Robert Barnett.
A spokesman for the Justice Department did not return a call from CNN on Sunday; a spokesman for the FBI did not offer any comment. The administration has refrained from commenting on the case in the past given the current litigation.
Other law enforcement officials told CNN what Humphries and others regarded as interference from headquarters could also be seen as efforts to ensure the FBI did everything by the book in a highly sensitive case. (They got court-approved warrants for things normally the FBI can administratively subpoena).
Some at the FBI thought Humphries did things to keep inserting himself into the case even after he was told to recuse himself given that he had a friendly relationship with Kelley. Those efforts allegedly include attempts at communication that Humphries is said to have had during the course of the investigations with then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia.
He testified that he and his wife and children are friends with the Kelleys and their children through their outreach to the military and law enforcement communities in Tampa, and did not understand his bosses’ insinuations or harsh judgments.
Were some officials in the Obama administration attempting misdirection away from the CIA Director in the thick of the 2012 presidential race? Were they motivated by sexism or some other pre-judgment of Kelley? These are implicit and explicit suggestions in the lawsuit, respectively, but as of now there has not been any clear answer from the administration as to why – according to the Kelleys’ suit and Humphries’ deposition – law enforcement officials were so skeptical of Jill Kelley.
FBI blaming the victims?
The story began in May 2012, when four-star Gen. John Allen began receiving e-mails from “firstname.lastname@example.org,” which “disparaged” Kelley and referenced an upcoming private dinner the Kelleys were hosting with “several senior foreign intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials,” according to the lawsuit.
The email troubled Allen given the potential security concern and “frightened the Kelleys, as it indicated that Mrs. Kelley was being followed or stalked, and raised serious concerns about her own safety and well being, particularly given the number of terrorist risks faced by CENTCOM leaders.”
Broadwell later admitted to having sent that email as well as another from “Tampa Angel” to Dr. Scott Kelley, also disparaging his wife, promising “embarrassment for all, including spouses, such as info in national headlines.”
Jill Kelley reached out to Humphries, an FBI Agent whom she and her husband knew socially.
“She explained that Gen. Allen had received an odd e-mail,” Humphries testified, noting that “whoever sent these e-mails is either in close physical proximity or has penetrated the cyber security of these folks to include the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Director Petraeus, and I was worried and concerned for his safety, the safety of the generals.”
Humphries thought the emails “ominous” and contacted Special Agent Adam Malone of the Tampa Cyber Squad.
“We had already reached the threshold on the cyber or physical security of senior government leadership and possible their email,” he said.
By the third week of June, the FBI had identified Broadwell as the cyberstalker, Humphries said, relating how he saw FBI videotape of “a BMW pulling up to a Starbucks in North Carolina and shortly thereafter the alleged subject of the case enters and logs on, and some of the e-mails were being sent, so they had a firm idea of who it was.”
In an attempt to apparently suss out whatever rivalry or animus might exist between Broadwell and Kelley, Humphries was asked to call Kelley, “sort of like a ruse like to see if Mrs. Kelley knew who the subject was.”
He did so, and asked her for a book recommendation for background on Petraeus. But Kelley didn’t mention Broadwell or her book about the man with whom she’d had an affair, “All In: The Education of David Petraeus.”
According to Humphries, when he raised the title of the book, Kelley said, “Gen. Petraeus doesn’t really like that book. He said the person who came and wrote it sort of came in for the guise of being an academic researcher and then ended up writing a book.”
Humphries said he was surprised Kelley didn’t know the name of the book let alone the author. If Broadwell “would have some animus against Mrs. Kelley, Mrs. Kelley doesn’t even know who she is,” he recalled thinking.
Meanwhile, others in the FBI were heading in an altogether different direction with their judgments of the jet-setting socialites, Humphries said.
“I was surprised throughout the process of the marginalization of Mrs. Kelley as a victim in this case because I heard comments from them saying things like – you know, I reminded them at one point, you may not agree with the lifestyle of the Kelleys, but they’re victims in this crime,” he testified.
The special agent in charge, Steven Ibison, “kind of rolled his eyes and snorted at the proposal that I said they were victims,” Humphries said.
“The only victim is her husband because he has to pay for all the food that she goes out and eats and takes pictures of and sends to everyone,” said Kevin Eaton, the assistant special agent in charge, according to Humphries.
Kelley is often took photos of her food when she goes out to eat and sends them to her friends, a source close to Kelley said.
It was a comment that “shocked and surprised” Humphries since it revealed that the FBI was looking at Kelley’s e-mails beyond the ones relevant to the cyberstalking, contrary to Kelley’s explicit instruction.
“Something was starting to shift in my mind to make me realize that they had a different view of this than how I understand what was taking place,” he testified.
This was all “Completely counter to the Jill Kelley that I had known for three years and her husband, Scott Kelley. And I couldn’t understand why there was so much angst over this very simple criminal case that could be resolved very quickly and expeditiously and yet was being made far more complicated,” he said.
But soon the FBI leaders would be challenging Humphries’ integrity and marital fidelity as well.
The FBI director “just shoved these up my ass”
It’s not surprising that a case involving cyberstalking of top generals and the CIA director would prompt the awareness of higher-ups at the FBI. But the behavior from those officials in Washington, shocked Humphries.
In June 2012, Humphries was told by Stacy Arruda, FBI supervisory special agent with the Tampa Division of the Cyber Crime, FBI agents went to the airport to fly to North Carolina to interview Broadwell.
“But they were called back to have their questions reviewed,” by Ibison, the special agent in charge, Humphries said. He said his understand was that deputy director of the FBI Joyce “halted” the interview of Broadwell, which was not consistent with FBI protocol.
Arruda became so “concerned and was frustrated by the high level of direction,” Humphries said, she ultimately “felt it was wise to keep a separate copy” of all the evidence in the case.
Ultimately Arruda told Humphries that higher-ups essentially removed her from the case.
In July 2012, Joyce summoned Ibison out of meeting, Humphries testified. Humphries testified that he was later told that he was the subject of the discussion; Eaton, the assistant special agent in charge, told Humphries that Joyce and the director of the FBI Robert Mueller suggested that Humphries was having an inappropriate relationship with Jill Kelley.
Humphries said he was “completely blind-sided by that accusation and actually shocked and stunned … I immediately denied it and offered to voluntarily take a polygraph at the same time.”
He said he was confused as to why the FBI focused on Kelley and him instead of Broadwell.
In September 2012 Ibison “summoned” Humphries to a meeting and asked him “whether there was anything in my communications with Jill Kelley for which I would be embarrassed,” he testified.
“No,” Humphries said, and Ibison “threw a bunch of pictures at me and files of my e-mails to Jill Kelley.”
“Well, I told the director that and he just shoved these up my ass,” Ibison said, according to Humphries, “and he tossed the pictures at me.”
The photographs to Humphries were completely innocent, including “Halloween photos, photos at hookah bars with other employees … One was a picture of the famous mannequin picture with me shirtless between the two, pictures that I had sent to all my supervisors and they had used at annual conferences as funny pictured from the division.”
The origin of the “mannequin” picture – described in the media when the story broke in November 2012 as a “shirtless photo” the FBI agent sent to Jill Kelley – was hardly seductive, as Humphries describes it.
At a range in 2009, members of the SWAT team “were joking that my bald head looked like the shirtless dummies that we had. And so somebody suggested that we take a picture … And we took picture and it went out to 50 different people,” Humphries said. “I actually sent it to Scott Kelley’s email address … it was never meant to be anything but a joke.”
“These are pictures you saw before,” Humphries said, according to the deposition. Ibison’s response was, “Well, it was OK inside the FBI but not OK to share it outside the FBI,” according to Humphries.
Humphries left his meeting with Ibison under the impression that FBI Director Mueller believed “that I had messed up the case for the government because of my … alleged inappropriate misconduct with Mrs. Kelley, that I had ruined the government’s case to ever be able to fully prosecute without embarrassing the bureau.”
Meanwhile, at this point Petraeus had not been interviewed.
When Humphries asked his supervisor about the direction of the case, he was told, “No one wants to be involved in a case like this during an election cycle.”
Election Day was Nov. 6, 2012. Three days later, Petraeus resigned, after which senior military and law enforcement officials leaked Kelley’s name to the media. Accusations soon followed, with ABC News reporting that the FBI had “uncovered ‘potentially inappropriate’ emails between Gen. Allen and Kelley” and Fox News saying the officials “characterize certain email communications as the “‘equivalent of phone sex over email,’” charges the Kelleys vociferously deny.
Jill Kelley’s lawsuit states that her “reputation is indelibly tainted … consistently referred to as the ‘center’ of the ‘sex scandal’ and is often portrayed as the woman who brought down two American generals.”
In addition, amidst the wild media fracas of this case, Gen. Allen’s anticipated promotion to Supreme Allied Commander of Europe for NATO was delayed until an investigation into his relationship with Kelley was completed. By the time he was cleared of all wrongdoing, Allen had retired from the military.
Humphries has a long and decorated career with the FBI, working on the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Seattle and Tampa, as well as serving as program manager for FBI operations at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. In 2002 he received the director’s award for outstanding counterterrorism investigation for his work helping the thwart the would be Millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam; in 2012 he received the FBI Medal of Valor for a 2010 incident where he shot and killed a man wielding a knife outside MacDill Air Force Base.
Among the many others whom will likely be deposed in the case are former FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who at the time was general counsel at the Pentagon.
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.