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Clinton to FBI: Colin Powell Advised Me to Use Private Emails — But Is That the Whole Truth?

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Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton reportedly told investigators that former Secretary of State Colin Powell recommended she use a private email account, sources say.

According to The New York Times, Powell supposedly gave Clinton the advice during a dinner party at the home of Madeleine Albright in 2009. Albright is a former Secretary of State as well.

The account is detailed in a series of FBI notes handed over to Congress Tuesday, in which investigators conducted a lengthy interview with Clinton back in July regarding her use of private emails. The notes’ contents are ultimately what led to FBI director James Comey’s decision not to press charges against the former first lady, The New York Times reports.

The conversation between Clinton and Powell was first detailed in an upcoming book by journalist Joe Conason, titled “Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton.” The novel primarily focuses on Bill, not Hillary, and his post-presidential endeavors.

In it, Conason describes in greater detail the nature of Albright’s dinner party in 2009. Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Condolezza Rice were reportedly also in attendance. According to the book, Albright asked the “seasoned” former secretaries to offer Clinton a bit of advice as she prepared for her term as the nation’s next top diplomat.

“Powell told [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,” Conason wrote.

“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.”

The New York Times reports that Conason is a long-time supporter of the Clintons and interviewed both Hillary and Bill for his new book.

Powell’s camp has since issued a statement saying the former Secretary of State has no recollection of the dinner party conversation.

But the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email scandal turned up correspondence between the two from 2009, in which the former first lady asked Powell about his email practices while he was Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. According to a statement from Powell’s office, the former Secretary of State did send Clinton an email memo explaining his use of his personal email account for unclassified messages “and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department.”

By this time, Clinton had already decided to use a personal email account at the U.S. State Department. Sources familiar with the matter say neither Powell nor the State Department have copies of the email exchange – but investigators do.

Since the uproar over Clinton’s emails began, many have criticized the former Secretary of State for comparing her use of a personal email account to Powell’s. While both utilized private emails, there are a few major differences. For instance, Powell didn’t have a server at his house or rely on outside contractors like Clinton did at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., the Times reports.

During an appearance on the NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Powell also explained that he had a desktop computer to receive classified information and a laptop for personal, unclassified information. The State Department had a “disastrous” information system at the time and Powell said he felt the need to fix it.

“What I had to do was to bring the State Department into the 21st Century,” he explained. “And the way of doing that was getting them new computers that gave them access to the whole world. And then to make sure I could change the brainware of the department, and not just the software and hardware, I started to use email.”

Powell asserted that the private emails were only used for personal matters and State Department “housekeeping.”

By the time Clinton became Secretary of State however, the State Department had already put an email system in place dedicated to unclassified information — thus negating her need for a private email server.

Despite efforts to explain herself, many Clinton critics still aren’t buying it.



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