In case there was any remaining doubt that the drama surrounding General David Petraeus was like something straight from cable TV, Jill Kelley—the second woman caught up in the debacle—has hired Judy Smith, the Washington fixer who inspired the ABC series Scandal. Not only that, but Kelley—who ignited the investigation that brought down the CIA director when she told the FBI about e-mails she’d received from his mistress, Paula Broadwell—has also retained Washington power lawyer Abbe Lowell.
Between Smith and Lowell, Kelley is now represented by Washington’s crisis dream team. Smith cut her teeth on managing scandal when she represented Monica Lewinsky during the fallout from her affair with President Bill Clinton. Other clients have included former Idaho senator and notorious bathroom foot-tapper Larry Craig, the family of Chandra Levy, and quarterback Michael Vick.
Lowell, the head of litigation at Chadbourne & Parke, has also built his career on aiding the scandal-plagued. He represented John Edwards in the campaign finance fraud case stemming from his affair with Rielle Hunter. Former Republican senator John Ensign retained Lowell when he was caught up in an investigation also related to an extramarital affair. Lowell defended disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and, like Smith, he was involved in the Lewinsky matter, as chief minority counsel to the House of Representatives during Clinton’s impeachment proceedings.
So yeah, this isn’t Smith’s or Lowell’s first rodeo.
But when it was initially reported that Kelley had hired the two, it wasn’t yet clear why she would need such an experienced—and surely expensive—duo on her side. As the Petraeus saga unfolds, however, we’re learning more about Kelley’s role—and the details aren’t flattering for the Florida socialite and mother of three.
The Washington Post reports that the investigation into Petraeus has expanded to include a probe into “potentially inappropriate” communication between Kelley and another high-profile general, John Allen, commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. And the Wall Street Journal brought to light another salacious detail: The FBI agent who launched the investigation into Petraeus after Kelley told him about the e-mails from Broadwell was taken off the case because of concerns from superiors that he was too personally involved. How personally involved? Well, he allegedly sent shirtless photos of himself to Kelley.
There are undoubtedly many more layers of the story yet to be revealed, and it will be interesting to see Smith’s and Lowell’s strategy play out. It seems an initial step of their plan has been to get Kelley’s family members in the media talking about her virtues as a wife and mother.
Smith and Lowell have not returned requests for comment, but we will update if they do.