(WASHINGTON) — The FBI agent who started a probe that would eventually depose CIA chief David Petraeus sent a shirtless photo of himself to a Florida socialite at the center of the scandal, but he was joking, not sexting, a lawyer for the agent told ABC News.
Frederick Humphries was identified late Wednesday as the FBI agent who was first contacted by Tampa high society regular Jill Kelley over alleged harassing emails from an anonymous sender. An investigation started by Humphries into the emails would eventually reveal they were sent by Paula Broadwell, a close associate of and biographer for David Petraeus, and that Broadwell, 40, and Petraeus, 60, were having an affair. The married CIA Director resigned from his post over the weekend.
But before Humphries was identified, questions were raised about his own relationship with Kelley after several major media outlets revealed he had sent her a “shirtless” photo of himself to the socialite.
Lawrence Berger, a lawyer for Humphries, told ABC News Wednesday that his client had known the Kelley family for years and that the picture was just a “joke picture.” Further, Berger said the photo was sent to Kelley and her husband long before the harassing emails in question were received.
As described by Berger, the photo showed Humphries posing shirtless next to some shooting range dummies, apparently likening himself to the headless, bare-torsoed targets.
“There was absolutely no romantic involvement or relationship whatsoever between Agent Humphries and Jill Kelley,” said Berger.
Berger also said it was incorrect to identify Humphries as a “whistleblower” in the case, but would not comment on a New York Times report that said Humphries had gone to Rep. Dave Reichart, R-Wash., when he became concerned the FBI probe into Petraeus’ affair had been stalled for political reasons. Officials said the White House was not notified about the investigation until a day after President Obama’s reelection — months after the FBI had discovered evidence of the Petraeus-Broadwell affair.
The Times reported that Reichert put Humphries in touch with House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor , R-Va., who then passed the message to FBI Director Robert Mueller. Before Humphries was identified, Cantor confirmed his contact with an FBI agent involved in the case, and later Reichert’s office said it “stands by the accuracy” of the Times report.
Humphries has worked as a supervisor on Joint Terrorism Task Force in Tampa and has worked on high-profile terrorism cases.
In Seattle, Humphries worked the so-called Millennium terror plot in 1999, which prevented an Algerian al Qaeda member from bombing Los Angeles International Airport.
More recently, he testified in Florida in a terrorism case of Florida student Youssef Megahed and his associates.
In that case, back in 2007, a sheriff’s deputy with the Berkeley County Sherriff’s Office in South Carolina became suspicious when University of South Florida student Ahmed Mohamed and his companion, fellow USF student Megahed, did not initially stop when they were pulled over for speeding. The officer said he saw Megahed disconnect a power cord from a laptop computer as he approached the car. The deputy searched the vehicle. According to court records, he found safety fuses, several sections of cut PVC piping containing a potassium nitrate explosive mixture and containers filled with gasoline.
The pair was arrested that night for transporting explosives. Following the arrest, the FBI in Tampa and South Carolina began an investigation with the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Petraeus is scheduled to appear before a Congressional committee Friday to answer questions about the Sept. 11 attack on an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya that took the lives of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
The former CIA director told Headline News Thursday his resignation had nothing to do with that attack and said he never shared classified information with his mistress Paula Broadwell.
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