Colin Powell Discouraged Clinton Aides From Using Him as Scapegoat in Email Scandal

Colin Powell
Colin Powell / AP

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tried dissuading Hillary Clinton and her top aides from implicating him in the fallout surrounding her use of a private email server, according to newly leaked emails published Tuesday.

In a message sent to a confidant last month, Powell said he spent time with Clinton’s former chief of staff Cheryl Mills "burying the email flap."

"Sad thing [is] that HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me into it," Powell wrote on Aug. 28, according to the Intercept.

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"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," he continued.

Hacker group D.C. Leaks obtained the emails from Powell’s private Gmail account and provided reporters with access to the documents Tuesday.

The messages reveal Powell regularly discussing Clinton’s use of an unsecured email server with reporters and confidants in an attempt to distance himself from the Democratic nominee. He noted that unlike Clinton, he never used a private server or his personal AOL account to discuss classified material.

"It is no secret that I used [an] unclassified personal email account in addition to my classified State computer," Powell wrote to a New York Times reporter.

Clinton told FBI investigators earlier this year that Powell had advised her to use a personal account when she first assumed her role as secretary of state. Powell has denied those claims. He has also argued that the State Department’s technology system was severely outdated when he arrived at the agency.

"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," Powell wrote to his business partner Jeffrey Leeds last year, referring to Clinton’s staff. "As long as the stuff is unclassified. I had a secure State.gov machine. Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris."

Powell said Clinton sought him out for advice regarding his email practices during a June 16, 2009 dinner held at former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s house. Powell wrote in an email last month that Clinton was already using a private server when she approached him.

"She didn’t need any advice or ok from me; she was already doing it. I gave her written guidance on why and how I had been doing it," he wrote. "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."

FBI Director James Comey faulted Clinton in July for being "extremely careless" with her handling of classified information upon announcing the agency would not recommend charges for the Democratic nominee. He said Clinton’s "convenience" put national security at risk.

Powell told People Magazine last month that Clinton’s aides were attempting to "pin" the email scandal on him, adding that the former first lady was using a private email server for a year "before I sent her a memo telling her what I did."