Former Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected assertions that he had inspired Hillary Clinton’s use of private email during her tenure at the State Department Saturday, suggesting that “her people have been trying to pin it on me” to deflect criticism about her handling of government correspondence.
At an party in East Hampton, New York on Saturday, Powell said Clinton was “using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did,” according to a report in People.
Powell, according to a conversation reported by Joe Conason in his upcoming book “Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton,” advised Hillary Clinton “to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer.”
Clinton had at that point already set up a private email, and according to Conason took Powell’s advice as confirmation of her choice to “keep her personal account and use it for most messages.”
The New York Times quoted the book in a Thursday report that Clinton had pointed to Powell’s private email use when questioned by the FBI, and said that he had advised her to do so as well.
FBI director James Comey eventually declined to bring charges against Clinton in his investigation of her email server use earlier this year. Comey still harshly criticized Clinton’s decision to keep communications on her private email, calling it “extremely careless” given the presence of classified information.
When asked why Clinton might have cited him in defending her email use, Powell said to People, “Why do you think?”
"It doesn't bother me,” he added. “But it's okay. I'm free.”