Kelley opens up to bedazzled Howard on a trip down the rabbit hole. Curiouser and curiouser. …
Kurtz: Kelley says she was “terrified” late last summer when he told her about the email. In that note and the barrage that followed, “there was blackmail, extortion, threats,” Kelley told me in her first interview since the David Petraeus scandal erupted, breaking a silence of nearly three months.
Contradicting virtually every published account of the saga, Kelley indicates that the anonymous emails did not warn her to stay away from Petraeus, as is commonly assumed. And yet the press depicted the two of them as “romantic rivals. Think how bizarre that is,” Kelley says.
One person close to Kelley says the tone of the notes grew increasingly severe and, without being explicit, threatening. She declined to show me the emails, which another source described as fewer than 10 in number.
It seems evident that Broadwell had grown jealous about what she perceived as Kelley’s close relationship with Petraeus; at one awards ceremony, he kissed her on the cheek. But Kelley will not speculate about Broadwell’s motivation.
Kelley, 37, would find herself the subject of fevered speculation that she was carrying on with Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, which she flatly denies. Allen also has denied wrongdoing.
Kelley bristles at those eye-catching media reports that she and Allen exchanged as many as 30,000 emails, calling the figure “outrageous.” While Kelley will not provide an estimate, she says she believes the emails totaled in the hundreds.
What has been lost in the lurid and sometimes mocking coverage is the toll the scandal has taken on Kelley, her husband, and their three young children.
Concerned about journalists near her house last November, Jill Kelley called the police and invoked her ‘diplomatic’ status.
“It was devastating,” Kelley told me. “To have your privacy invaded is truly—there are no words to describe it. Instead of enjoying a family birthday party, I had paparazzi storming my front lawn, pushing down the door. There are no words to describe the panic and fear at that moment.”
But Kelley has many words to describe what happened to her, and they come pouring out in a torrent during a two-hour interview in Washington, her hands tightly clasped, her voice by turns angry and exasperated and confused by the enormity of her ordeal. Her dark eyes flashed when she was upset, and she paused occasionally to smooth her mane of shoulder-length black hair.
Federal prosecutors declined last month to file charges against Broadwell over the emails. What has not been reported is that the case was closed after Kelley was asked whether she wanted to press charges and declined. The final decision is always up to prosecutors, but Kelley would have been the chief witness.
Kelley says she was concerned about the impact of a potential criminal case on her friends and their families. “I just wanted to let them move on with their lives and not have to relive it,” she says.
Dee Dee Myers, Broadwell’s spokeswoman, says “the Justice Department thoroughly looked at this and declined to prosecute.” That decision, says Myers, “makes a pretty bold statement about the content of the emails…People can make their own judgments based on that.”
Part of Kelley’s ire is directed at the media for reporting what she says are lies and half-truths about her. She made it clear in her emotional interview that she fervently wants to erase her public image as, to use the phrase that has dogged her, the Other Other Woman.
Dee Dee Myers? Bill Clinton’s press flack?
Update: General John Allen cleared of “misconduct.” Wash Post.