On 13 September 2016, a number of news outlets reported on a leak of private e-mails sent or received by former secretary of state Colin Powell:
— andrew kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) September 13, 2016
BuzzFeed was the first outlet to report the leak of Powell’s e-mails (said to have available on the web site DCLeaks.com), paraphrasing candid discussions pertaining to the respective campaigns of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Many of the released e-mails were from August 2016 and pertained to coverage of Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsanctioned private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state.
Back in February 2016, Powell stated to a reporter that he never “[told] Hillary to have a private server at home, connected to the Clinton Foundation, two contractors, [to take] away 60,000 emails, [and have] her own domain.” Clinton has maintained that Powell advised her during a 2009 dinner party to use a private server, but Powell and his State Department successor, Condoleezza Rice, have repeatedly denied that any such discussion took place at that event.
Multiple e-mail messages from Powell disparaged Clinton’s attempts to tie the issue to him:
Her people have been trying to pin it on me. The truth is, she was using [the private server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did. … It doesn’t bother me. But it’s okay; I’m free.
I have told Hilleary’s [sic] minions repeatedly that they are making a mistake trying to drag me in, yet they still try.. The media isn’t fooled and she is getting crucified. The differences are profound and they know it.
I told [Clinton] how I was using my personal computer for [unclassified] emails. I said nothing about servers, basements, domains, Clinton foundation, government employees … The Clintonistas have been trying for months to connect our usage.
When I left [the State Dept.] I took no emails or records with me. No private servers in the basement, etc. No secrets — everyone in the Department knew what we were doing. No one ever said ‘bad boy.’
In an e-mail dated 28 August 2016, Powell lamented Clinton’s handling of the e-mail issue and her inclusion of him in the ongoing controversy:
Sad thing it that HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me into it. 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.
Powell maintained that unlike Clinton, he used a “public server, AOL, not my own servers and domain,” suggesting that his communications could be retrieved by federal agencies had the need arisen.
The Intercept quoted August 2015 e-mails in which Powell expressed frustration with the Clinton camp’s early attempts to involve him in a brewing controversy, as well as what he asserted would become a problem for the State Department due to Clinton’s actions:
They are going to dick up the legitimate and necessary use of emails with friggin record rules. I saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine. As long as the stuff is unclassified. I had a secure State.gov machine. Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris. … Dumb. She should have done a ‘Full Monty’ at the beginning. I 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.
Intercept reporter Lee Fang curated additional Clinton-related e-mails on Twitter after Powell’s messages were made public, documents in which Powell and confidante Jeffrey Leeds discussed Clinton’s health and her purported disdain for President Obama:
Also back in 2015, Leeds & Powell discussed Hillary’s health pic.twitter.com/dm4G1WJvus
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) September 14, 2016
A separate 13 September 2016 BuzzFeed article focused on multiple criticisms levied by Powell about Donald Trump via e-mail:
[Powell] slammed GOP nominee Donald Trump as a “a national disgrace” and an “international pariah” … [those] remarks came in a June 17, 2016, email to Emily Miller, a journalist who was once Powell’s aide. In that same email Powell also said Trump “is in the process of destroying himself, no need for Dems to attack him. [Speaker of the House] Paul Ryan is calibrating his position again.”
In an Aug. 21 email from Powell to Miller, he blasted Trump for embarking on a “racist” movement that believes President Obama was not born in the US.
“Yup, the whole birther movement was racist,” Powell wrote. “That’s what the 99% believe. When Trump couldn’t keep that up he said he also wanted to see if the certificate noted that he was a Muslim.”
Colin Powell told BuzzFeed he was “not denying” the authenticity of leaked e-mails, reiterating the statement to NBC News and cryptically cautioning that the parties responsible “have a lot more.”