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On Oct. 18, 2021, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell died of complications from COVID-19 while also suffering from multiple myeloma, according to a statement from his family. Several former presidents, including George Bush and Barack Obama, released statements commemorating him. But it was former President Donald Trump’s comments that raised eyebrows and generated outrage.
In a statement released over email through his Save America political action committee, Trump decried Powell’s role in the Iraq War, and called him a RINO, which is a pejorative that means “Republicans In Name Only.” Trump’s full statement was shared on Twitter by New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman, and on various media outlets:
Given the chance to be gracious about someone’s death, or say nothing at all, Trump takes a decidedly different route pic.twitter.com/HMgFAiiRcK
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 19, 2021
The full statement reads:
Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!
Powell had criticized Trump over the Jan. 6, 2021, riots that shook the U.S. Capitol, saying he could “no longer call myself a fellow Republican.”
Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, has acknowledged promulgating faulty intelligence about Iraq’s supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction before the United Nations to advocate for the 2003 U.S. invasion of that country. He later expressed regret for the role he played: “It was painful,” he said. “It’s painful now.” Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and thousands of Americans, died in the insurgent conflict it unleashed. He described his advocacy of the invasion as a “blot” on his record.
Binckes, Jeremy. “Trump Reacts to Colin Powell’s Death: ‘But, Anyway, May He Rest in Peace!’” MarketWatch, 19 Oct. 2021. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/president-trump-reacts-to-colin-powells-death-but-anyway-may-he-rest-in-peace-11634659945. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.
Bort, Ryan. “Trump Can’t Help Himself, Lashes Out at Colin Powell.” Rolling Stone, 19 Oct. 2021, https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/donald-trump-bashes-colin-powell-after-death-1244194/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.
Choi, Joseph. “Trump Criticizes Media for Treating Powell ‘beautifully’ in Death.” TheHill, 19 Oct. 2021, https://thehill.com/homenews/news/577355-trump-criticizes-media-for-treating-powell-beautifully-in-death. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.
Cole, Devan. “Colin Powell, First Black US Secretary of State, Dies of Covid-19 Complications amid Cancer Battle.” CNN, 18 Oct. 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/18/politics/colin-powell-dies/index.html. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.
Cillizza, Chris. “Analysis: Donald Trump (yet Again) Proves There’s No Bottom.” CNN, 19 Oct. 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/19/politics/donald-trump-colin-powell-death/index.html. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.
“Iraq War Role Was a Stain on Powell’s Record — One He Openly Said He Regretted.” Washington Post, 18 Oct. 2021. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/colin-powell-iraq-war/2021/10/18/179d66bc-3023-11ec-a880-a9d8c009a0b1_story.html. Accessed 19 Oct. 2021.