News & Politics

Jill Kelley Has Hired Washington’s Crisis Dream Team, Abbe Lowell and Judy Smith

The second woman caught up in the Petraeus scandal now has some serious muscle behind her.

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.

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

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.