The David Petraeus affair: A comprehensive timeline

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Then-CIA Director-desigate Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in June 2011: On Monday the FBI removed boxes of materials from the home of Petraeus' mistress, Paula Broadwell.
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Then-CIA Director-desigate Gen. David Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in June 2011: On Monday the FBI removed boxes of materials from the home of Petraeus' mistress, Paula Broadwell.

New twists and dime-novel characters pop up daily, but the basic story of the celebrated general's downfall is falling into place

Congress wants to know who knew what about former CIA Director David Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and when. A lot of questions remain — both serious and of the more conspiratorial nature — about the FBI investigation that exposed the affair, the details of the affair itself, and whether any crimes or security breaches occurred in the growing web of deceit. As reporters unearth new facts and colorful characters — a rogue FBI agent obsessed with the case, and a well-connected Tampa socialite who apparently inadvertently started the ball rolling — lots of details are falling into place. Here's a look at what we know about the career-ending Petraeus affair:

April 27, 2006
Lt. Gen. Petraeus gives a speech at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where Paula Broadwell is working toward her master's degree. She introduces herself at a post-speech dinner, and he offers to help in her research on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. 

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January 26, 2007
Gen. Petraeus wins Senate confirmation, 81-0, to command all U.S. forces in Iraq.

2008
Broadwell decides to write about Petraeus' leadership style for her doctoral dissertation. She interviews him over email, then reportedly seals his cooperation by matching his six-minute-mile pace in a run along the Potomac River in Washington.

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October 13, 2008
Petraeus takes over as head of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Fla. He befriends Jill Kelley, a social liaison to the base, and her husband, Scott.

June 30, 2010
Petraeus wins Senate confirmation to take command of the war in Afghanistan. Over the next year, Broadwell visits Petraeus six times to interview him and his staff for what has evolved from a dissertation into an authorized biography. Petraeus' Afghanistan staff notes, sometimes with disapproval, the unprecedented access Petraeus gives Broadwell.

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August 31, 2011
Petraeus retires from the Army, after nearly four decades in uniform, to take over as director of the CIA.

September 6, 2011
Petraeus is sworn in as CIA director. 

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November 2011
Petraeus and Broadwell begin their extramarital affair, according to retired Army Col. Steve Boylan, a former spokesman for Petraeus.

January 24, 2012
Broadwell's book, All In: The Education of David Petraeus, is released. Broadwell embarks on a promotional tour for the glowing biography.

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May 2012
Broadwell sends a series of harassing, mildly threatening emails to Kelley from anonymous accounts, reportedly accusing her of flirting with "him." Kelley complains to an FBI agent she knows, and he passes the case on to his local office. The FBI decides to look into the cyber-stalking allegations, reportedly because the sender seemed to know a lot about the CIA director's activities.

July 2012
The Petraeus-Broadwell affair ends, according to Boylan. About this time, Petraeus reportedly tells Broadwell to stop sending harassing emails to Kelley; according to The Washington Post, the FBI had told Kelley that the emails were from Broadwell, and she shared the name with Petraeus when she informed him of the emails. 

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Late Summer 2012
FBI agents have ascertained that Broadwell and Petraeus were likely involved in an extramarital affair, and that there was no national security breach from Petraeus' private email account. FBI Director Robert Mueller III is informed of the affair, as are senior Justice Department officials, possibly including Attorney General Eric Holder.

September 2012
FBI agents interview Broadwell, who reportedly admits to the affair and hands over her computer to be searched. The agents find material labeled classified, which she insists didn't come from Petraeus. Petraeus, in a subsequent interview, also denies handing Broadwell classified information, and the FBI finds no evidence to contradict them.

SEE MORE: David Petraeus resigns from the CIA over an affair: What we know so far

Oct. 26
Speaking at the University of Denver, Broadwell discusses some potentially classified information about a CIA prison at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, citing it as a possible cause of the September 2012 attack. (The CIA denies that it detained any prisoners, something Obama barred.)

Oct. 27
The FBI agent Kelley contacted about the emails calls House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to inform him about the affair. The agent (incorrectly) believes that the investigation has stalled — his "worldview" led him to suspect a politically motivated cover-up to help Obama, a law enforcement official tells The New York Times. The call was set up by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.).

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Oct. 29–Nov. 2
The FBI interviews Petraeus (and possibly Broadwell) one last time about the affair, concluding that no charges are warranted in the case.

Oct. 31
Cantor's office contacts the FBI's chief of staff to report the conversation with the FBI agent. Referring to the subsequent decision to tell the Obama administration about the affair, a person close to the investigation tells The Washington Post, "I don't know if it would have taken this course without Cantor." The New York Times' law enforcement source disagrees, saying the FBI agent's self-styled "whistle-blowing" was "a little embarrassing" but had no effect on the inquiry.

SEE MORE: Newly leaked Benghazi emails: A smoking gun?

Nov. 6
The Justice Department tells Petraeus' boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, about the affair. Clapper urges Petraeus to resign.

Nov. 7
On Petraeus' 60th birthday, intelligence officials inform White House staff of the affair.

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Nov. 8
Obama is told about the affair. Petraeus meets with the president and tenders his resignation.

Nov. 9
On Broadwell's 40th birthday, Obama accepts the resignation, and Petraeus publicly admits to the affair. After the resignation is announced but before Broadwell is identified as the mistress, Scott Broadwell emails friends to cancel Paula's birthday party.

Nov. 12
FBI agents search the Broadwells' home in Charlotte, N.C., taking away boxes of material. The Wall Street Journal reports that the FBI agent who started the ball rolling had sent shirtless photos of himself to Kelley well before the investigation began; became "obsessed" with the case, even though he wasn't assigned to it, and had to be ordered to back off; and is now under investigation by the FBI's internal affairs unit. And in a new twist, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opens an internal investigation of "inappropriate communications" of an unidentified nature between Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Jill Kelley.

Sources: The Associated Press (2), Harvard, The New York Times (2), PBS NewsHour (2), The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Wired

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