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Feds won't revisit socialite Kelley's emails

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Published:   |   Updated: July 3, 2013 at 07:05 AM

The former Pentagon general counsel who pored over 25,000 pages of email traffic between now-retired Marine Gen. John Allen and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley before turning them over to the Inspector General says there is no reason to reopen an investigation into those electronic exchanges.

Jeh Johnson, who served as Pentagon General Counsel from Feb. 2009 until the end of last year, reacted to a call by a member of the House Armed Services Committee to reopen the investigation into whether Allen committed professional misconduct through his email correspondence with Kelley.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told The Tampa Tribune she is calling for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to reopen an investigation into emails between Allen and Kelley and for the initial investigation report to be made public.

In January, the Department of Defense Inspector General's office found that allegations of professional misconduct involving his emails with Kelley were unsubstantiated.

Speier said she asked for the investigation to be reopened after a telephone briefing last week with the Inspector General's office. She said she was told during the briefing that Allen refused to make his personal emails available for the investigation and that investigators did not issue a subpoena for them.

She said she was told the two exchanged 3,000 emails between 2010 and 2012.

"I don't care if they were having an extramarital affair," said Speier. "But I do care that he was not abusing his office and not sharing classified information. I think every American would have that same concern. To not do a complete investigation makes a mockery of this investigation to begin with."

Johnson, speaking publicly for the first time about how the investigation unfolded, said there is no need to reopen the investigation because he passed along emails from Allen's personal and professional accounts as part of the email exchanges he turned over to the Inspector General's office in November. He said there were so many pages because many of the emails had repeat information or contained a history of previous conversations.

Johnson said that three days after David Petraeus resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency over an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, he received a call from the FBI's general counsel about a trove of emails it had uncovered during its investigation into an allegation by Kelley that she was being harassed by email. It was that complaint that led to the discovery of the Petraeus- Broadwell affair.

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Johnson said the FBI told him the emails between Kelley and Allen were not germane to Kelley's complaint but might be of interest to the Department of Defense because "of a potentially inappropriate relationship involving a military officer" who at the time was commanding U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it is a violation for a married service member to have an affair.

"My strong recollection is that the emails that were handed over to me by the FBI were the product of subpoena, therefore they would have picked up every single communication between Mrs. Kelley and Gen. Allen," Johnson said.

The FBI declined comment.

Johnson said he and another attorney pored over the emails, which were provided by the FBI in two large boxes.

"They were very comprehensive and you could tell over a several year period that nothing was missing," said Johnson. "There didn't seem to be any gaps in what we were looking at."

After "going over the entire stack of emails," Johnson said he concluded that they showed "a potentially inappropriate relationship" between Kelley and Allen, who President Barack Obama had nominated to take over as commander of U.S. forces in Europe, but no breach of national security.

With Allen scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing the following week, Johnson said he had no choice but to turn over the email exchange to the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General to investigate.

Johnson declined to say what was in the emails or characterize the nature of the exchange between Allen and Kelley.

But he did say that "my instinct was that the relationship did not go any further than the emails. There was nothing like, 'oh we had a great time last night.'"

Allen and Kelley have denied an affair and, in a lawsuit against the FBI and Department of Defense for violating her privacy by leaking her name and collecting her emails, Kelley denied having an affair with anyone.

A spokeswoman for the Inspector General's office said its investigation was "comprehensive and thorough" and that a subpoena wasn't needed.

"We did not receive or uncover any indication of a breach of national security," Bridget Serchak said in an email to the Tribune. "Decisions by the OIG on whether to issue an Inspector General subpoena in support of an OIG investigation are based on a wide range of factors, including the accessibility of documentary evidence, witness testimony, and the nature of the specific allegations being investigated. During the OIG administrative investigation of allegations involving Gen. Allen, we were able to address the specific allegations without issuing a subpoena."

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Speier said she wants to see the report compiled by the Inspector General's office. Because the charges against Allen were deemed unfounded, the Inspector General is not releasing its report or any related information, Serchak said.

"I don't believe a new investigation is necessary," said Johnson. The Inspector General's office "did a thorough investigation and reached the right results. To go beyond that would be a fishing expedition and invasion of privacy for both of them."

Kelley, who hosted lavish parties for military leadership at her waterfront brick Bayshore Boulevard mansion, met Petraeus and Allen when they were stationed at MacDill Air Force Base. Petraeus, then an Army four-star general, headed U.S. Central Command. Allen served at MacDill as deputy commander, then interim commander when Petraeus took command in Afghanistan, a job Allen then assumed.

Kelley declined comment, but her attorney, Alan Raul, said, "(g)iven the egregious leaks of confidential investigative material, the government should be investigating who leaked Mrs. Kelley's name and unfairly damaged her reputation."

Even after being cleared, Allen opted not to seek the job commanding U.S. forces in Europe, instead retiring.

Johnson, the former Pentagon general counsel who is now a partner in a high-powered Washington law firm, called Allen's decision to retire "a loss for this nation.

"He was an exemplary general officer and outstanding battlefield commander," said Johnson, who considers Allen a personal friend.

Speier said she has not been told whether the investigation will be reopened. Monday, the Pentagon said the Inspector General's Office has given it no reason to reopen the investigation.

haltman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7629

Twitter: @haltman

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