Colin Powell attempted to persuade Hillary Clinton and her aides to not use him as a scapegoat for the controversy surrounding her private email server, according to leaked emails hacked from the former secretary of state’s Gmail account.
In the emails, which were obtained by The Intercept, Powell wrote to at least one confidant about his repeated warning to Clinton not to blame him for the scandal.
“I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton’s party to get their attention. She keeps tripping into these ‘character’ minefields,” he wrote. He also had tried to settle the matter in a meeting with Clinton aide Cheryl Mills in August.
In a separate email, Powell said he “warned her staff three times over the past two years not to try to connect it to me. I am not sure HRC even knew or understood what was going on in the basement.”
Powell had previously accused Clinton of trying to “pin” the scandal on him after Clinton told federal authorities in July that Powell had detailed to her his email practices under George W. Bush, according to a New York Times report in August.
The paper cited a passage from an upcoming book about Bill Clinton’s post-presidency that read, “Powell told her to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer.”
Powell’s emails from his Gmail account were leaked by D.C. Leaks, a website that releases hacked emails from U.S. military officials and politicians and is said to have ties to Guccifer 2.0, who some believe has tied to Russian Intelligence.
According to The Intercept, Powell regularly exchanged emails with reporters and friends about Clinton’s server controversy, explaining that his situation had been different than Clinton’s. Powell never setup a private server and used a government computer for classified matters.
The Clinton campaign’s attempt to try to say Powell had encouraged the use of a private server left him deeply troubled.
“They are going to dick up the legitimate and necessary use of emails with friggin (sic) record rules. I saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine,” Powell wrote to business partner Jeffrey Leeds. “As long as the stuff is unclassified. I had a secure State.gov machine. Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”
Clinton had sought Powell’s advice about his private email account during a June 2009 dinner at former Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s house. Powell gave Clinton “written guidance on why and how [he] had been doing it.”
A spokesperson for Powell said in a statement last month that he had talked to Clinton about describing his use of his personal AOL account for “unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department. At the time there was no equivalent system within the Department.
“He used a secure State computer on his desk to manage classified information,” the statement added.