Powell in leaked email: ‘I didn’t tell Hillary to have a private server at home’ – Politico
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell vented to his associates earlier this year about Hillary Clinton’s attempts to rope him into her defense of her email practices, according to alleged leaked messages reviewed by POLITICO late Tuesday.
“I didn’t tell Hillary to have a private server at home, connected to the Clinton Foundation, two contractors, took away 60,000 emails, had her own domain,” Powell said in one Feb. 4 email to former Reagan White House chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein, in the latest cache of hacked communications among top Washington insiders to emerge in the heat of this year’s presidential campaign.
Story Continued Below
In a separate email that day to Condoleezza Rice, who succeeded him as George W. Bush’s secretary of state, Powell wrote: “Been on the phone and email all afternoon. Hillary and Elijah Cummings have popped off.”
Two days later, Rice wrote back, “I don’t think Hillary’s — ‘everyone did it,’ is flying.”
On another occasion, Powell complained in an email to Lawrence Wilkerson, his former chief of staff.
“HRC and her mishandling of this has really given her a major problem I do not wish to get involved in, despite the best efforts of her team to drag me in,” Powell wrote on Sept. 7, 2015.
POLITICO obtained access to these and other Powell emails from a group calling itself DC Leaks. Security experts have connected DC Leaks to an ongoing Russian government cyberattack campaign targeting U.S. political institutions and state election offices.
A Powell spokeswoman did not respond to an email asking if the leaked messages were authentic. But Powell didn’t challenge a separate set of leaked emails published Tuesday by BuzzFeed, telling the news site: “I’m not denying it.” (In those emails, BuzzFeed reported, he called Donald Trump “a national disgrace.”)
Clinton’s repeated attempts to invoke Powell’s track record at the State Department has proven a persistent source of irritation during the controversy over her use of a personal email server while she was secretary.
Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had issued a statement on Feb. 4 defending Clinton’s private email setup by pointing to Powell and Rice’s use of personal email accounts — where, he said, they “received classified national security information.”
The revelation about Powell and Rice’s email accounts came in a memo from the State Department inspector general to Patrick Kennedy, the department’s under secretary for management.
“I warned them three days ago to be careful with the memo, it was political dynamite,” Powell wrote in the email to Rice. “So the IG of the [intelligence community] gets it and immediately ships it to the Hill and from there to the media.”
Rice also said that the “Wall Street Journal had an excellent editorial this morning,” presumably referring to one published online the night before under the headline “Clinton’s False Email Equivalence.” The subtitle of the editorial was, “Hillary tries to wrap Powell and Rice into her email security breach.”
The Powell emails that Cummings highlighted in his Clinton defense were not classified at the time that Powell received them. The department upgraded them as it reviewed all former secretaries’ personal email histories in response to the Clinton controversy.
In an email to Duberstein, Powell complained about the State Department IG memo mislabeling the messages.
“Stupid State Department dragged me in and I had to take care of myself,” he wrote. “I warned them. Don’t say these unclassified messages are classified or should have been classified.”
On Feb. 17, perhaps hoping to show Powell that the department was making this clear, Kennedy forwarded Powell a transcript of State Department spokesman John Kirby’s explanation of the classification upgrade. “It’s not unusual to upgrade a document following a classification review,” Kirby had told reporters on Feb. 5.
Months later, Powell mocked the campaign’s efforts to use him as a precedent for Clinton’s behavior.
“HRC campaign continues to say u did it too,” Duberstein wrote to Powell on May 25.
“They dig their hole deeper,” Powell responded. “A number of columns have shot down the comparison.”