David Petraeus (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) - Former CIA director David Petraeus tells an HLN anchor that he is "in shock" over the extramarital affair scandal that forced him from office but says his resignation had nothing to do with his scheduled testimony about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
His comments, the first with a reporter since he stepped down, came in a conversations with HLN anchor Kyra Phillips, who described them to Robin Meade on HLN's Morning Express.
Petraeus did not appear on camera nor was the interview recorded.
"He has said this has nothing to do with Benghazi and he wants to testify," Phillips said. "He will testify. He has maintained to me all along this was a personal failing ... he has made it very clear that this was about an extramarital affair and not over classified information or Benghazi."
He is now scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill on Friday.
Phillips said that at the outset of their talks, Petraeus seemed shaken by what had happened, and began by saying things like, "What the hell happened?" and "Oh, my God, I'm in shock. I am sick about this."
"In our first conversation, he had told me he had engaged in something dishonorable," Phillips says, in relaying her talks with Petraeus. "He sought to do the honorable thing in response and that was to come forward. He was very clear that he screwed up terribly -- it was all his fault -- even that he felt fortunate to have a wife who is far better than he deserves. Obviously he's taking it really hard. He knows he made a big mistake. He does want to move forward making things work with his family. He doesn't want to throw 37 years out the window with his wife."
He also said that he had not spoken with Paula Broadwell, the woman with whom he had the affair, since the story became public.
"They talked a couple of times when he ended this relationship which was a couple (of) months ago," Phillips said. "But they have not talked since the story broke."
He also told Phillips that he had never passed classified information to Broadwell.
Petraeus told Phillips that he and his family where friends with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley and her husband. It was Kelley's concerns over receiving threatening emails from Broadwell that triggered the scandal.
"They (the Petraeus family and the Kelleys) spent social time together," Phillips said. "And Paula Broadwell felt threatened by that. And that is why she pursued Jill Kelley. But that's it. That's as far as we went in that discussion."
As for his resignation, Petraeus told Phillips that he did not try to convince James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence that he should keep his job.