Powell: 'No Recollection' of Dinner Conversation Advising Clinton to Use Private Email Server

August 19, 2016

Former secretary of state Gen. Colin Powell gave a statement Friday about Hillary Clinton's claim that he advised her at a dinner party to use a private email server, saying he had no recollection of such a conversation.

He did say, however, that he sent her a memo that he used a personal account for "unclassified" messages but no longer had the email describing those practices.

Powell's office sent a statement to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, which reporter Kristen Welker read out in part Friday morning.

"General Powell has no recollection of the dinner conversation. He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department. At the time, there was no equivalent system within the department. He used a secure state computer on his desk to manage classified information. The general no longer has the email he sent to former Secretary Clinton."

According to the New York Times, Clinton told the FBI during their interview that Powell advised her to use the private server at the State Department. Clinton was investigated by the Department of Justice and found to have been "extremely careless" with classified material, but no criminal charges were filed.

The Times reported:

The journalist Joe Conason first reported the conversation between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Powell in his coming book about Bill Clinton’s post-presidency, "Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton," which The Times received an advanced copy of.

Mr. Conason describes a conversation in the early months of Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department at a small dinner party hosted by Madeleine Albright, another former secretary of state, at her home in Washington. Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice also attended.

"Toward the end of the evening, over dessert, Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel to the nation’s next top diplomat," Mr. Conason writes. "Powell told her to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer."

Mr. Conason continued, "Saying that his use of personal email had been transformative for the department," Mr. Powell "thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages."

Also, according to the Times:

Separately, in a 2009 email exchange that also emerged during the F.B.I. questioning, Mrs. Clinton, who had already decided to use private email, asked Mr. Powell about his email practices when he was the nation’s top diplomat under George W. Bush, according to a person with direct knowledge of Mr. Powell’s appearance in the documents, who would not speak for attribution.

Note: The lead sentence initially said Powell "refuted" Clinton's claim. This has been changed.