Petraeus Scandal

Gloria Allred Enters Petraeus Saga as Attorney for Natalie Khawam

The famed attorney appeared with new client Natalie Khawam at a D.C. presser where neither said much about the saga. By Lizzie Crocker.

Gloria Allred, savior of scorned celebrities and mistreated women, has joined the ranks of high-profile people in the convoluted Petraeus saga, adding more drama to the scandal that keeps on giving.

The well-known lawyer spoke at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday with Natalie Khawam, the twin sister of Jill Kelley, a key figure in the affair-email debacle that led to Gen. David Petraeus’s resignation as head of the CIA.

Allred held Khawan’s arm as they shuffled into a basement conference room at the Ritz-Carlton. “We are here today to help the public understand who Natalie Khawam really is, to correct some misconceptions about her, to explain what her plan of action is, and to discuss why Petraeus and his wife provided affidavits in her [custody] battle,” Allred began.

Her last talking point was the main reason reporters showed up at the conference, though they didn’t learn much more than they already knew about Khawan’s relationship with Petraeus, which Allred described as “social.” Instead of going into detail on that front, Allred stressed that Khawam is a “loving, caring mother” and a “loving, supportive sister,” before listing a few of her academic and career credentials: two master’s degrees and success as a “whistleblowing attorney.”

So why do we care about all of this? What role does the sister of the other, other woman play in the Petraeus scandal?

Let’s start with the “affidavits” from the former CIA director and Marine Gen. John Allen in Khawam’s prolonged custody dispute over her 4-year-old son, which she recently lost. A Florida judge cited Khawam’s “bad faith litigation tactics” and “illogical thinking” in his ruling before awarding full custody to her estranged husband, Grayson Wolfe. So much for the letters from top governmental officials lauding her maternal dedication.

But Khawam currently is appealing the ruling, and Allred made sure to cite Petraeus’s support of her client in the press conference. “Natalie feels [Petraeus and his wife] stood up for the truth as they knew it in her custody case, and she is deeply appreciative that the Petraeus family have continued to love and support her during hard times,” she said.

She did not mention General Allen, the top military commander in Afghanistan who is now under investigation for numerous email correspondences with Kelley, which were deemed “inappropriate” and “flirtatious” by a senior Defense official. Their vast email batch was discovered while the FBI was scouring threatening emails from Paula Broadwell—Petraeus’s biographer, with whom he had an affair—to Kelley.

But none of this was discussed by a downtrodden Khawam during Friday’s conference. She took several moments to collect herself behind the podium before delivering her statement, which consisted of little more than an irrelevant description of her relationship with her sister.

“My sister Jill and I aren’t just twins, we’re best friends,” she said, choking back tears until they dribbled out of her nose. “We love to cook together. I usually bake and she sautés.” They also both love to play piano and chess and so do their children, she said, in case we were wondering.

“I look forward to the day when I’m able to answer everyone’s questions and explain what really happened in this matter,” Khawam said in closing.

Baffled, reporters turned their questions to Allred.

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How did Petraeus and Allen come to write the custody-battle letters?

“I cannot comment on that at this time.”

Was your client ever threatened?

“I’m not going to comment on anything that might be part of this investigation.”

Does your client have any complaints regarding wrongful disclosure?

“We have no comment on emails.”

Has the [Petraeus] scandal come to complicate what your client is trying to argue in court?

“I think everything that has been said has had an impact on her life. She’s worked very hard to earn her position as a well-educated attorney, as someone who is involved in some very important issues legally, as someone who cares about her family, who values her reputation.”

Needless to say, she declined to comment for this article.