Paula Broadwell is finally breaking her silence over her affair with former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus because she says she wants to reclaim her “own narrative” and career.
“Sometimes it’s better to remain silent. I’ve had that philosophy for the last five years,” Broadwell said on “CBS This Morning” Thursday in her first television since the 2012 scandal. “But I’ve reached a point where I feel like, ‘You know what? I need to fight back for my life.’”
Broadwell, a former military intelligence officer and biographer, admitted to having an extramarital affair with Petraeus, whom she met while researching a book on his life. Petraeus, who is reportedly being considered by President-elect Donald Trump for secretary of state, later admitted he shared classified information with Broadwell. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in April 2015 for mishandling classified information, receiving two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine.
“Five years ago I made a very serious mistake,” Petraeus said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. “I acknowledged it. I apologized for it. I paid a very heavy price for it. And I’ve learned from it.”
Court documents in the case show that he turned over a black book of highly classified “code word” documents — including the identity of covert officers and notes of National Security Council meetings — to Broadwell, though none of that information wound up her Petraeus biography, “All In.” Broadwell was demoted and lost her top secret security clearance, but she was never charged with a crime.
Broadwell said it was “a bit of a shocker” to learn that Petraeus is being considered for secretary of state, but would not say whether she thought he should be allowed to serve in a top-level post in the Trump administration.
“I think he’s unequally qualified for many positions, but that’s not my position to say,” Broadwell said. “I think the president-elect would have to decide and members of the Senate.”
But the news of Petraeus’ possible nomination motivated her to speak out.
“I think he should be able to go on with his life,” Broadwell explained. “He’s earned it, and so should his family. But then it begged the question of, ‘Why shouldn’t I be able to go on?’”
The 44-year-old, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., with her husband (Scott Broadwell, whom she married in 2000) and their two sons, says her family helped her cope with the fallout of the Petraeus affair.
“They’ve been incredibly supportive, and I frankly owe my life to my husband and my children,” she said. “They know I made a mistake and that it hurt daddy. And what I talk about with them is that when you make a mistake, you acknowledge it. Yet you don’t dwell on it. And you need to move forward at some point.”
But Broadwell said the scandal has cost her job opportunities because employers are hesitant to deal with the media circus that would come with her hiring.
“So I think I was qualified for this [bank] position,” she said. But I was told by the military recruiter that it would be front page news if I got hired at the bank, and the bank wouldn’t want to deal with that.”
Broadwell “realized that’s probably true, but it was hard to stomach,” given her multiple degrees, including one in public policy from Harvard.
Which is why she is going public now.
“I’m fighting to take back my own narrative and my life,” Broadwell said. “But I also believe, on principle, I’ve got something to offer the world and I’m not a benchwarmer. That’s not my personality. Put me in, coach.”