WASHINGTON — Ex-CIA Director David Petraeus, who was whisked clandestinely into private meetings with Congress on Friday to avoid reporters, expressed regret anew in an appearance that marked his first official business since he resigned in disgrace over an affair.
In ways befitting a spy, the former four-star general was sneaked into a secure room beneath the Capitol to escape a clamorous crowd of photographers and television cameras. After more than four hours, Petraeus left much the way he came and was seen departing in a two-vehicle motorcade. About 20 minutes later, The Associated Press photographed Petreaus entering his home — one of the only public images of him since he resigned.
The scandal over Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, has preoccupied Washington, even as the possibility of war loomed in Israel and the U.S. government faced a market-rattling fiscal cliff that could imperil the economy. So far, the scandal has ensnared Petraeus; the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen; two Florida socialites; and a decorated FBI counterterrorism agent.
Across town, the White House acknowledged Friday that Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite who inadvertently triggered the FBI investigation that uncovered Petraeus' affair, visited the Executive Mansion three times in the last three months with her sister, Natalie. Kelley and her sister — both are friends with Petraeus and Allen — were guests of a mid-level White House aide, according to an Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because those visitor records have not yet been made public. Kelley and her family also received a tour.
The White House also acknowledged that Broadwell visited there twice since 2009.