But U.S. officials said Saturday that Paula Broadwell, the woman with whom Mr. Petraeus was having the affair, sent the threatening e-mails to another woman who was so frightened that she approached the FBI for protection and for help tracking the sender.
The identity of the female recipient and her connection with Ms. Broadwell were not immediately known.
A senior government official told Reuters on Saturday that no evidence has turned up suggesting Mr. Petraeus had become vulnerable to espionage or blackmail. At this point, it appears unlikely that anyone will be charged with a crime as a result of the investigation, the official said.
Here are five key things about the affair and the other players involved, compiled by The Globe and Mail.
Rumours about an affair had followed the general for several years, according to current and former U.S. military officials, but the facts came to light following an investigation into security breaches by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI was alerted that Ms. Broadwell may have had access to Mr. Petraeus’s e-mails. The agency began to monitor Ms. Broadwell’s e-mails, and that’s when the affair was discovered, according to officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that the inquiry began several weeks ago, at least, and that Mr. Petraeus was interviewed by investigators about two weeks ago. Investigators initially thought they were dealing with a “routine harassment case,” The Washington Post learned, until they traced some e-mails to a private account belonging to Mr. Petraeus.
The White House was notified about the affair on Wednesday – one day after President Barack Obama’s re-election – but the President himself did not hear about it until Thursday morning when Mr. Petraeus met with him, asking for permission to resign.
Mr. Obama accepted the resignation on Friday afternoon and released a statement saying Mr. Petraeus had provided “extraordinary service to the United States for decades” with “intellectual rigour, dedication and patriotism.” He credited Mr. Petraeus with making the United States “safer and stronger.”
A congressional staffer spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to say that the Senate and House intelligence committees were briefed on Mr. Petraeus’ resignation only after the news broke out in the media.
Two anonymous law enforcement officials told the Washington Post that an investigation into the affair will likely not result in charges of criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Petraeus or Ms. Broadwell.
The unfortunate timing:
After the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which killed four people, including the American ambassador to Libya, the White House Administration and the CIA came under attack for possible lapses in intelligence and security.
CIA officials were accused of advising administration officials to say the Benghazi attack was a film protest, and not a militant terror attack, despite knowing that the attack was not connected to anti-Muslim film protests taking place in other parts of the Middle East.
Mr. Petraeus was supposed to testify on the attacks at closed congressional briefings next week. The CIA’s Deputy Director Michael Morell, who Mr. Obama has appointed as the spy agency’s acting director, is now expected to testify instead.
At the time of Mr. Petraeus' appointment to the CIA, the Agence France-Press news agency reported that critics of the four-star general described him “as a hyper-ambitious ‘King David’ with designs on the presidency.”
The mistress – Paula Broadwell:
Ms. Broadwell wrote a biography of the general called All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. Her personal website has been taken down, but her author information on publisher Penguin’s site says that Ms. Broadwell is a PhD candidate at the University of London. She received a Masters degree in public administration from Harvard University. The Penguin biography also states that Ms. Broadwell has “more than a decade of military service and nearly two decades of work in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency.”
The pair met in the spring of 2006 when Ms. Broadwell was a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, The Associated Press reported Saturday. Mr. Petraeus was rewriting the U.S. military’s counter-insurgency manual at the time.. Ms. Broadwell asked if he could help with academic research and he gave her his card. While working on her dissertation, Ms. Broadwell learned that Mr. Petraeus was going to Afghanistan and she e-mailed to ask if she could join him. He consented and the dissertation evolved into a biographical book, co-authored by Washington Post editor Vernon Loeb.
When Ms. Broadwell’s book was published in January this year, many critics attacked it for being biased and lacking independent perspective. A Rolling Stones review criticized the book for leaving the reader with unanswered questions, and called it “blatant, unabashed propaganda.” When Ms. Broadwell appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to talk about her book, Mr. Stewart quipped: “`The real controversy here is: Is he awesome or incredibly awesome? It’s a nice portrait.”
On the show, Ms. Broadwell said she would often interview Mr. Petraeus while running six-minute miles with him. She also said that Mr. Petraeus’ nickname is Peaches – a name that has stuck since his high school days.
In a CBS interview, she said Mr. Petraeus “is a human and is challenged by the burdens of command.” She talked about being able to get “a special sneak peek” into Mr. Petraeus’s personal side that showed how compassionate he is about the sacrifices the military makes in Afghanistan.
On Twitter, Ms. Broadwell describes herself as a “National Security Analyst; Army Vet; Women’s Rights Activist; Runner/Skier/Surfer; Wife; Mom!”
The wife – Holly Petraeus, née Hollister Knowlton:
The wife of the four-star general met her husband of 38 years when he was a cadet at West Point. Ms. Petraeus’ father was a superintendent there. They have two grown children, and their son led an infantry platoon in Afghanistan. Ms. Petraeus is an assistant director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an organization set up to help members with financial problems. She blogs regularly on their website, often about money matters that affect military families directly.
The other spouse – Scott Broadwell
Ms. Broadwell is married to Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist, and they live in an upper-middle class neighbourhood in Charlotte, N.C., with their two sons, according to The Daily Beast.
On Friday night, Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, tweeted a link to what he called an “interesting letter.” The letter, published mid-July, was from a New York Times Magazine reader to their advice columnist. Titled My Wife’s Lover, the writer says he is aware of his wife having an extramarital affair with a high-profile government executive. The writer says he has watched the affair intensify over the last year and seeks advice on whether to acknowledge the relationship or ignore it.
The tweet has sparked speculations on social media that the letter writer may have been Mr. Broadwell himsellf. The magazine's editor, Hugo Lindgren, has tweeted that fact-checking shows the column has no connection to the scandal.