Former Secretary of State Colin Powell gave Clinton tips for private email use

 

The House Oversight Committee released an email exchange Wednesday between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State Colin Powell in which he advised her on the use of personal email.

The exchange between Clinton and Powell took place two before the start of tenure as secretary of state. According to The Wall Street Journal, Powell told Clinton that he used a personal computer to conduct government business and took steps to ensure his digital correspondence wasn’t “going through the State Department servers.”

Powell said he had “a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line … so I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers. I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal email accounts.”

The emails were cited in the FBI’s notes about the possibility that Clinton or her aides mishandled classified information during her time at the State Department. The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI quoted some, but not all, of the conversations between Powell and Clinton.

Clinton told federal authorities that she didn’t follow Powell’s guidance, even though she used a private email account to handle government business. FBI Direct James Comey recommended no charges should be brought against Clinton, but said that she had been “extremely careless” with classified documents.

According to The Journal, Powell responded to Clinton’s note on Jan. 23, 2009 saying he used a “personal computer” and a PDA. Clinton had asked Powell’s advice on how to bring her Blackberry along with her to the State Department.

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The latest release appears to show that Powell acknowledged that he exchanged work-related emails with foreign leaders and State Department officials using a personal device. He said the setup allowed him to “bypass the government’s computer network.”

“I didn’t have a BlackBerry. What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.) So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers,” Powell told Clinton, according to the paper.

“I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels.”

The release of the email by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. came on the eve of a House Oversight hearing in which Republicans are expected to focus on Clinton’s use of a private email server and whether the State Department had been forthcoming with Freedom of Information requests.

However, Cummings came down on Republicans accusing lawmakers of holding Clinton to a double standard during the investigation into her private email server.

“If Republicans were truly concerned with transparency, strengthening FOIA, and preserving federal records, they would be attempting to recover Secretary Powell’s emails from AOL, but they have taken no steps to do so despite the fact that this period—including the run-up to the Iraq War—was critical to our nation’s history,” he said.

Clinton has repeatedly said the she’s followed in the footsteps of her predecessors in regards to using a private email server to handle government business.

Powell has denied encouraging Clinton to use a private email server.

A spokesperson for Powell issued a statement last month, saying he had “no recollection” of a dinner conversation between him and Clinton about using a private email server while in office.

“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 statement added. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that federal law requires government email exchanges to be preserved for archiving and could be released through FOIA requests. Powell appeared to be aware of that an warned Clinton about using her BlackBerry for government work.

“There is a real danger. If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and it it (sic) government and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may become an official record and subject to the law… Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”

Powell also warned Clinton about the possibility of being hacked by foreign agents. He said he had numerous meetings about why he couldn’t bring his BlackBerry into secure areas of the State Department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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