David H. Petraeus, the best-known military commander of his generation, is close to reaching a plea deal with the Justice Department that will allow him to avoid an embarrassing trial over whether he provided classified information to a mistress when he was the director of the C.I.A., according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The plea deal would complete a spectacular fall for Mr. Petraeus, a retired four-star general who was once discussed as a possible candidate for vice president or even president. He led the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was the architect of a counterinsurgency strategy that at one time seemed a model for future warfare.
His mistress, Paula Broadwell, is a former Army Reserve officer who had an affair with Mr. Petraeus in 2011, when she was interviewing him for a biography, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”
Mr. Petraeus resigned as the director of the C.I.A. in 2012, three days after President Obama was re-elected. At the time, Mr. Petraeus acknowledged the affair. He has since denied any criminal wrongdoing.
A plea deal would spare Mr. Petraeus a high-profile trial where embarrassing details about the affair would have been presented to the jury and made public. Mr. Petraeus is still married to Holly Petraeus.