WASHINGTON — The White House said Wednesday it will go ahead with Gen. John Allen's nomination to become commander of NATO forces in Europe, following his exoneration in a Pentagon investigation of questionable email exchanges with a Florida woman linked to the sex scandal that led David Petraeus to resign as CIA director.

If confirmed by the Senate, Allen would succeed Navy Adm. James Stavridis in the NATO post. Allen is due to leave his position as commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan on Feb. 10.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had put Allen's nomination on hold last November when he directed the Pentagon's inspector general to determine whether Allen's email exchanges with Jill Kelley of Tampa, Fla., amounted to wrongdoing. The emails have not been made public but were said to include flirtatious exchanges that could be judged to be inappropriate.

Allen, in a brief statement through his spokesman, said he was pleased to have been cleared.

Allen said he was glad the Pentagon investigation concluded that "the allegations against him were unsubstantiated" and that he "did not violate the requirement of exemplary conduct or the prohibition against conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman."

The FBI had referred the emails to the Pentagon in the course of its investigation of the Petraeus matter, which included email exchanges between Kelley and Paula Broadwell, who was Petraeus' biographer and later his lover. Allen had maintained from the start of the investigation that he was innocent of any misconduct.

On Tuesday the Pentagon announced that the inspector general had exonerated Allen.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday that he hopes the Senate will consider Allen's nomination "in a timely manner."

Asked about the Pentagon investigation, Carney said, "That matter is now complete and we welcome its finding."

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Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

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  • David Petraeus

    A highly decorated four-star Army general lauded for his leadership of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, Petraeus moved into the civilian world to become CIA director in September 2011. He shocked official Washington on November 9, 2012 by admitting an extramarital affair with his biographer and resigning his spymaster post. (Text via <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121114/us-scandal-scorecard/">The Associated Press</a>)

  • Paula Broadwell

    The other woman. An author and married mom of two young children, she was a West Point-educated Army reservist and graduate student when she met Petraeus at Harvard in 2006. She later embarked on a case study on his leadership of the Iraq War. After he took the helm in Afghanistan, Broadwell expanded her work into a biography, gaining unprecedented access to Petraeus and his commanders. It's called "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus." Their affair began in November 2011, a couple of months after he became CIA director, according to retired Army Col. Steve Boylan, a friend of the Petraeus family. It ended last summer, Boylan said. The relationship was exposed after Broadwell of Charlotte, N.C., sent emails to another woman, Jill Kelley, warning her to stay away from Petraeus, officials said. (Text via <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121114/us-scandal-scorecard/">The Associated Press</a>)

  • Jill Kelley

    All threads in the story trace back to this Tampa, Fla., socialite. A surgeon's wife and mother of three children, Kelley is a sort of self-appointed social ambassador for the nearby U.S. Central Command and other officers at MacDill Air Force Base. The Kelleys opened their bayside home to lavish parties where military brass mingled with Tampa's elite. In this role, she befriended Petraeus and his wife, Holly, when he took over Central Command in October 2008. Kelley stayed in close contact with Petraeus after he left to take command of the Afghanistan war. They exchanged nearly daily emails in an account routinely monitored by his aides, according to two former staffers, who said those messages weren't romantic in tone. In May 2012, Kelley started getting anonymous, harassing emails warning her away from Petraeus. She reported the email to the FBI. The FBI traced the messages to Broadwell, uncovering her affair with Petraeus. The FBI notified Petraeus' boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who urged him to resign. And the FBI found something more. It unearthed "inappropriate communications" between Kelley and another top military officer, John Allen, according to Pentagon officials. (Text via <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121114/us-scandal-scorecard/">The Associated Press</a>)

  • John Allen

    The four-star Marine general who followed in Petraeus' footsteps at Central Command and then as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is now following him into choppy waters. The Pentagon is investigating 20,000 pages of documents and emails involving Allen, who is married, and Kelley. Some of the communications were "flirtatious," according to a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly. Like Petraeus, Allen, 58, was part of the Tampa social circle; he moved up to acting commander when Petraeus left for Afghanistan. When Petraeus came home from Afghanistan, Allen moved into the top job there – his current post. President Barack Obama had nominated Allen to take over U.S. European Command and lead all NATO forces in Europe. (Text via <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121114/us-scandal-scorecard/">The Associated Press</a>)

  • Natalie Khawam

    Kelley's twin sister also socialized with the two generals. Both Petraeus and Allen wrote letters lauding Khawam as a devoted mother to help her in a bitter child custody battle with her ex-husband. Earlier in that divorce case, Superior Court Judge Neal Kravitz had criticized Khawam for a lack of honesty and "misrepresentations about virtually everything." (Text via <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121114/us-scandal-scorecard/">The Associated Press</a>)

  • Holly Petraeus

    Petraeus' wife of 38 years, mother of their two grown children, is in charge of service member assistance at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and is a well-known advocate for military families. Mrs. Petraeus is said to be devastated by her husband's infidelity. "Furious would be an understatement," family friend Boylan told ABC's "Good Morning America." (Text via <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121114/us-scandal-scorecard/">The Associated Press</a>)

  • FBI Agent Frederick W. Humphries

    Humphries, 47, was the agent who initially saw the emails the FBI said Petraeus' biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell, sent to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, a woman she apparently saw as a rival for Petraeus' affections. She also allegedly sent emails to Gen. John Allen, Kelley's friend and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Concerned about the emails, Kelley contacted Humphries in June. The two had met at a 2011 FBI Citizens Academy, a program aimed at teaching the public and journalists about what the agency does and how it operates. Kelley was in the class, which Humphries lectured one night about terrorism, according to Natalie Shepherd, a Tampa TV reporter who was there. Humphries, a former Army captain who worked in military intelligence, thought the emails raised serious concerns because the anonymous author knew the comings and goings of Allen and Petraeus, a former general who had preceded Allen in Afghanistan. His report back to the FBI started the investigation that led to Broadwell and uncovered her affair with Petraeus. (Text via <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/frederick-humphries_n_2134203.html" target="_hplink">The Associated Press</a>)