Powell: Clinton Trying to ‘Pin’ Email Scandal on Me

Colin Powell
Colin Powell / AP

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell accused Hillary Clinton of trying to "pin" her email scandal problems on him, telling People that Clinton had already used a private server for a year before telling her about his own email setup.

Clinton’s use of a private, home-brewed email server as secretary of state led to a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice into her potential mishandling of classified material. Clinton told the FBI in an interview that Powell had advised her to use the personal email account.

Powell, who served under President George W. Bush, disputed her depiction of events:

"Her people have been trying to pin it on me," Powell, 79, told PEOPLE Saturday night at the Apollo in the Hamptons 2016 Night of Legends fête in East Hampton, New York.

"The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did," Powell added.

Why does the former diplomat believe this to be the case?

"Why do you think?" he said. "It doesn't bother me. But it's okay; I'm free."

The New York Times reported he suggested using private email to Clinton during a 2009 dinner held at the home of another chief diplomat, Madeleine Albright.

Powell later released a statement saying he had no recollection of that dinner conversation, but he said he did send her a memo about using something like an AOL account for unclassified messages.

However, the chief difference was that he said that should only be for unclassified communications, and he never had a home-brewed server like Clinton did. Clinton conducted State Department business exclusively on the server, which led to FBI Director James Comey saying she had been "extremely careless" with classified material.