If you believed the earlier media reports about him, he’s either (a) lovesick for Kelley to the point where he tried to seduce her with barechested pics or (b) obsessed with the idea of a cover-up here because of his, ahem, “worldview.” Either way, he’s letting personal/political judgments interfere with his professional duties.
Third possibility: Maybe he’s an agent with a good track record who really did suspect that there’s something going on that shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Time for his side of the story:
Two former law enforcement colleagues said Mr. Humphries was a solid agent with experience in counterterrorism, conservative political views and a reputation for aggressiveness.
“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” said one former colleague. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”
He helped catch the Millennium Bomber in just his third year with the Bureau. As for the shirtless pics:
“That picture was sent years before Ms. Kelley contacted him about this, and it was sent as part of a larger context of what I would call social relations in which the families would exchange numerous photos of each other,” Mr. Berger said.
The photo was sent as a “joke” and was of Mr. Humphries “posing with a couple of dummies.” Mr. Berger said the picture was not sexual in nature.
That would solve the mystery of why Kelley reached out to him for help with the weird e-mails she was receiving. It never made sense that she’d do that if she was creeped out by sexual photos he’d sent. It makes lots of sense if she wasn’t creeped out and had laughed them off. As for his worries about a cover-up, I’m seeing a debate play out online among people familiar with FBI protocol. The pro-White House side argues that it’s inappropriate to involve elected officials like the president in an ongoing investigation lest political considerations interfere with the case. Time magazine reached out, though, to Bush AG Michael Mukasey, who wrote a memo while in office laying down guidelines about avoiding political interference — and he says the memo doesn’t bar informing the White House of what’s going on in cases like this. On the contrary:
Unfortunately for the Obama team, there are huge holes in their arguments. For starters, Mukasey himself says there is no prohibition on Justice-to-White House communication in criminal investigations. “The memo makes it quite clear that not only is that not the case, it is explicitly not the case,” Mukasey told TIME Tuesday evening. Says Mukasey: “The point is not that the White House can never be apprised of a pending criminal investigation; the point is that the White House should not reach out and influence a pending criminal investigation.”
More to the point, Mukasey’s memo specifically instructs “all components of the Justice Department” that “it is critically important to have frequent and expeditious communications relating to national security matters, including counter-terrorism and counter-espionage issues.” If anything, the Mukasey memo orders Justice Department officials–including prosecutors and the FBI–to communicate with relevant political authorities when they make a discovery like they did in the Petraeus case.
The Mukasey memo isn’t binding on the current Attorney General, or the Justice Department. But it is not the only precedent that suggests the Administration handled the Petraeus affair badly.
Could be that Humphries did overstep his bounds by interfering in a case to which he wasn’t assigned and then telling Eric Cantor about it, but whether that was his “worldview” at play or a well founded suspicion that people who needed to know about this weren’t being told is unclear. Possibly relevant: It appears he knew right away that this case was potentially bigger than just a routine cyber-harassment case. One of the e-mails that Kelley showed him initially was a forwarded message from … Gen. John Allen, who’d been contacted by someone calling themselves “kellypatrol” to warn him about Jill Kelley. (That, of course, turned out to be Broadwell.) NBC:
As reported previously by NBC News, Kelley took the emails – including at least one from Allen – to the FBI agent she knew because they made reference to meetings she had planned with both Allen and Petraeus, the source said. Kelley wondered why an anonymous e-mailer would know that kind of detail and became concerned that someone was cyberstalking her or hacking into her e-mails, the person said.
So Humphries knew right off the bat that not only was Allen somehow involved in this but whoever was harassing Kelley had non-public info about both his and Petraeus’s whereabouts. Maybe that’s why he followed up on the case so doggedly, not because he was infatuated with Kelley. And maybe he had reason to be suspicious: According to Reuters, the feds have found much more classified information on Broadwell’s computer than they expected to. Could be that she had access to it rightfully, per her security clearance, and simply didn’t store it securely. We’ll see; that’s what the raid on her home two days ago was designed to find out.
Exit question: How open a secret was Petraeus’s affair with Broadwell? The Journal reports today that Kelley “developed misgivings after friends in her Tampa social circle urged her to drop the matter, saying the probe would only cause bigger problems…” That makes me think maybe her “social circle” guessed who was sending the e-mails because they knew what was going on with Broadwell and Petraeus. Oh, and one other question: How confident are you that Petraeus’s allies are telling the truth about his affair ending four months ago? Because, per this report from Fox News, that seems hard to square with Broadwell’s demeanor — and publishing aspirations — just last month.