Colin Powell

Colin Powell’s recently hacked emails are published.

On September 13, 2016, hacked emails belonging to former Secretary of State Colin Powell appear on a website known as DCLeaks.com.  It is unclear who owns the DCLeaks website, which only appeared on the Internet a few months earlier. They are known for previously publishing hacked emails belonging to prominent Democrats and Republicans, including General Philip M. Breedlove, the former commander of NATO forces in Europe, and George Soros, a wealthy backer of liberal causes. It is also reported to have ties to Guccifer 2.0, who in turn has been accused of having links to the Russian government.

Colin Powell (Credit: Paul Morigi / Getty Images)

Colin Powell (Credit: Paul Morigi / Getty Images)

Powell’s aide Peggy Cifrino states, “We are confirming that General Powell has been hacked and that they are his emails. We have no further comment at this time.” The dates of Powell’s hacked emails range from June 24, 2014 to as recently as August 29, 2016.

Some of the emails are first reported by BuzzFeed and the Intercept, followed by many other prominent mainstream news sources.

The New York Times reports, “A hack of Mr. Powell’s email this week has ripped away the diplomatic jargon and political niceties to reveal his unvarnished disdain of Donald J. Trump as a ‘national disgrace,’ his personal peeves with Hillary Clinton and his lingering, but still very raw, anger with the Republican colleagues with whom he so often clashed a decade ago.” (New York Times, 09/14/16)

The FBI’s Clinton email investigation final report and its summary of her FBI interview are released.

The FBI’s 47-page final report on its Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s 11-page summary of its July 2016 interview with Clinton are publicly released. However, both are heavily redacted. The last third of the final report is entirely redacted.

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A Secret Service agent stands guard while two other agents close a gate after a Secret Service vehicle arrived at the home of Clinton in Washington, DC, July 2, 2016. (Credit: Cliff Owen / The Associated Press)

The Washington Post notes, “Ordinarily internal documents from FBI investigations are not made public. However, [FBI Director James] Comey has said the unusually high profile case warranted more robust public disclosures than is standard.”

It is believed both reports were finished just prior to when Comey gave a public speech on July 5, 2016, stating that he wouldn’t recommend any indictments in this case. Clinton’s interview occurred only three days prior to this.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other newspapers make the release of the two documents the main headline.

The Post comments, “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staffers employed an informal and sometimes haphazard system for exchanging and storing sensitive information and were at times either unaware or unconcerned with State Department policy…” (The Washington Post, 9/2/2016)

The Times comments: “The documents provided a number of new details about Mrs. Clinton’s private server, including what appeared to be a frantic effort by a computer specialist to delete an archive of her emails even after a congressional committee had requested that they be preserved.”

This is a reference to the revelation that Platte River Networks (PRN) employee Paul Combetta confessed to deleting and then wiping all of Clinton’s emails off her server in late March 2015, despite him being aware of a Congressional order to preserve them. This had been entirely unknown prior to the publication of the report. (The New York Times, 9/2/2016)

The following are other key findings in the FBI documents, as pointed out by the Times or the Post:

A snippet from the FBI report released on September 2, 2016. (Credit: public domain)

A snippet from the FBI report released on September 2, 2016. (Credit: public domain) The opening paragraph of the FBI’s summary on Clinton’s interview, released on September 2, 2016. (Credit: public domain)

  • Clinton defended her handling of the private server by repeatedly saying that she deferred to the judgment of her aides.
  • She regarded emails containing classified discussions about planned drone strikes as “routine.” (In fact, such discussions make up most of her “top secret” emails.)
  • She said she did not recall receiving any emails “she thought should not be on an unclassified system.” Furthermore, she “could not recall anyone raising concerns with her regarding the sensitivity of the information she received at her email address.” (In fact, she sent or received over 2,000 emails later deemed classified, including at least 22 at the “top secret” level.)
  • She emailed Colin Powell a day after she was sworn into office to ask him about his use of a personal email account when he was secretary of state. Powell warned her to “be very careful” because if she used her BlackBerry for official business, those emails could become “official record[s] and subject to the law.”
  • Some of her closest aides were aware she used a private email address but didn’t know she had set up a private server. (However, this is actually contradicted by other evidence.)

The front page of the FBI’s final report, released on July 2, 2016. (Credit: public domain)

  • She regularly brought her BlackBerry into a secure area near her office where it was prohibited, according to three of her aides. However, one aide said it was only stored there, not used.
  • She used 13 BlackBerrys to send emails. The FBI was unable to recover any of them. Two aides said “the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.”
  • One aide recalled two occasions “where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer.” (The New York Times, 9/2/2016) (The New York Times, 9/2/2016)
  • The FBI wrote that “investigative limitations, including the FBI’s inability to obtain all mobile devices and various computer components associated with Clinton’s personal email systems, prevented the FBI from conclusively determining” whether her emails had been successfully hacked.
  • Shortly after she left office, a laptop was made to contain back-up copies of all her emails. However, it got lost in transit.
  • According to the Post, Clinton claimed she “did not know much about how the government classified information. For instance, she said she did not pay attention to the difference between levels of classification, like ‘top secret’ and ‘secret,’ indicating she took ‘all classified information seriously.'” And when she was shown an email with the (C) marking, which is commonly used by the department to indicate classified information, she didn’t recognize the marking.
  • The Post also notes, “she repeatedly told agents she could not recall important details or specific emails she was questioned about.” (The Washington Post, 9/2/2016)

Colin Powell’s email account is hacked.

The personal email account of former Secretary of State Colin Powell is hacked on August 29, 2016 or shortly after this date. This is because when the hacking group DCLeaks publishes 30,000 of Powell’s emails from 2014 to 2016, the most recent email is from this date, indicating the hackers had access to his account at that time. (DCLeaks.com, 09/13/16)

Colin Powell warns the Clinton campaign to not compare his AOL account to the Clinton private server.

Just one month earlier, former Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested that Clinton had shot herself in the foot by not apologizing immediately and by dragging out her email controversy.

A sample of Colin Powell's leaked emails published by DCLinks.com. (Credit: public domain)

A sample of Colin Powell’s leaked emails published by DCLinks.com. (Credit: public domain)

The Intercept later highlights an email Powell writes on August 28, 2016 which states, “HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me to it.”

Powell says he tried to put an end to the matter by meeting with Cheryl Mills earlier that month. Instead, he writes, “I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton’s [sic] party to get their attention. She keeps tripping into these ‘character’ minefields.”

The emails reveal Powell isn’t shy about sharing his frustrations over the Clinton campaign’s attempt to “blur the lines between Clinton’s private email server and Powell’s AOL account,” according to the Intercept. He suggests to dozens of reporters and producers who emailed him to read his book, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership,” in which he devoted an entire chapter to his efforts to revamp the State Department’s IT system.”

Powell also argues, when he arrived at the State Department, the information technology system was extremely outdated.  The Intercept will conclude, “[U]nlike Clinton, Powell never set up a private server. Instead, he used his personal AOL [AmericaOnline] account, on a server maintained by AOL, and used a government computer for classified communications.” (The Intercept, 09/13/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

Colin Powell says Clinton’s campaign is trying to blame her email scandal on him.

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell (Credit: public domain)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says of Clinton’s email scandal, “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.” His comments come shortly after the New York Times reported that Powell advised Clinton should use a private email account for non-classified communications.

Powell adds, “The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.” Indeed, the Times mentioned that Powell’s advice came months after Clinton’s private email server and exclusive use of only a private email account began. (People, 8/21/2016)

August 18, 2016: Colin Powell allegedly recommended to Clinton that she should use a private email for non-classified communications.

The New York Times reports that Clinton mentioned this when she was interviewed by the FBI in July 2016. This account was included in the FBI’s notes about Clinton’s interview which was given to Congress on August 16, 2016. The content of notes are meant to be classified, but apparently someone in Congress leaked this account to the media.

In addition, the account is mentioned in an upcoming book about Bill Clinton written by journalist Joe Conason, who the Times calls “a longtime defender of the Clintons.”

According to Conason, the conversation took place in early 2009, several months after Clinton became secretary of state, and after she had already set up a private email server and was using a private email account for all her email communications. Clinton was at a dinner party hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which was also attended by former secretaries of state Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, and Condoleezza Rice.

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Former Secretaries of State (from left to right), Henry Kissinger James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry attend a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on September 3, 2014. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Conason writes, “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 [Clinton]. 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. Saying that his use of personal email had been transformative for the department, he thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.”

Additionally, Powell repeated the same advice in an email sent to Clinton around the same time, and after Clinton had already decided to use private email. Powell tells the Times that he has no recollection of the dinner conversation, but he does confirm sending an email giving that advice.

However, the Times notes that the situations between when Powell was secretary of state and when Clinton was had significant differences. When Powell took over the State Department, it did not have a computer system for sending unclassified emails. But such a system was set up by the time Clinton took over in 2009. Additionally, the department rules changed, prohibiting the use of a private email account as anyone’s main mode of email communication. Furthermore, Powell used the AOL (AmericaOnline) email service, which kept back-up copies of all emails, while Clinton used her own private server, which meant nobody kept backups except her. (The New York Times, 8/18/2016) (NBC News, 8/19/2016)

Clinton claims she had no role whatsoever in the sorting of her emails, but her account differs from the known facts in one important detail.

In Clinton’s FBI interview on this day, she is asked about her role in sorting her emails from her tenure as secretary of state into work-related and personal emails.

An FBI report published in September 2016 will summarize her response: “In the fall of 2014, Clinton recalled receiving a letter from [the] State [Department] which was also sent to former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeline Albright. From the letter, Clinton understood State was concerned there were gaps in their records and requested Clinton’s assistance in filling those gaps. Clinton wanted to assist State, so she directed her legal team to assist in any way they could. Clinton expected her team to provide any work-related or arguably work-related emails to State; however, she did not participate in the development of the specific process to be used or discussions of the locations where her emails might exist. Additionally, Clinton was not consulted on specific emails as to their content being work-related or not. Clinton did not have any conversations regarding procedures if any potentially classified information was discovered during the review of her emails because she had no reason to believe classified information would be found in her email account.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Clinton’s testimony differs from the known facts in one important detail. She claims that she didn’t direct her lawyers (David Kendall, Cheryl Mill, and Heather Samuelson) to begin the sorting process until she was formally asked about her email records at the same time other former secretaries of states were. That took place on October 28, 2014. The sorted work-related emails were given to the State Department on December 5, 2014, a little over one month later. However, Samuelson, the Clinton lawyer who did most of the sorting, said in her FBI interview that the sorting process took “several months.”

Furthermore, it is known that after the State Department informally asked for Clinton’s emails, Samuelson was first given some of Clinton’s emails to sort (all of those involving .gov email addresses) in late July 2014, and then was given all of Clinton’s emails to complete the sorting in late September 2014.

A Clinton biographer misquotes Colin Powell, making it seem he gave Clinton advice at a party to use her own email account.

Joe Conason (Credit: Nations Institute)

Joe Conason (Credit: Nations Institute)

Journalist Joe Conason is writing a book about Bill Clinton’s post-presidential years. The New York Times calls Conason “a longtime defender of the Clintons.” While researching for his book, he contacts Powell spokesperson Margaret Cifrino about an alleged dinner party incident. Due to a leak by hackers in September 2016 of all of Powell’s emails from 2014 to late August 2016, the entire correspondence will be made public.

Conason initializes contact with an email to Cifrino on June 17, 2016: “My inquiry chiefly concerns a dinner party he [Powell] attended for then-Senator Clinton in January 2009, which was hosted by former Secretary Madeleine Albright and attended by several former secretaries of state.”

After some back and forth, Conason replies with his questions:

  1. Did [Powell] attend that dinner, along with former secretaries Kissinger, Christopher, Albright, and Rice?
  2. Does he recall Secretary Albright asking all of them to give Secretary-designate Clinton one piece of advice from their own time at the State Department?
  3. Did he advise Mrs. Clinton to use her own email account rather than a State Department account, as he did?”
Margaret Cifrino (Credit: public domain)

Margaret Cifrino (Credit: public domain)

Cifrino passes on Powell’s reply to Conason:

“Our records show that the dinner was in June, not January. He doesn’t recall Items 2 or 3. He also publicly and widely used his personal email account, but he also had a State Department computer on his desk for classified communications. He does recall sharing with Secretary Clinton his use of his email account and how useful it was and trans-formative for the Department. He knew nothing then or until recently about her private home servers and a personal domain, nor, therefore, could he have advised her on that or suggested it. By June her system may have already been set up.”

On August 18, 2016, the New York Times publishes an article mainly based on Conason’s depiction of the Albright party. Conason claims that Albright asked all of the former secretaries of state at the party to provide one piece of advice to Clinton, and “Powell suggested that she use her own email.” Conason will also include this claim in his book published not long after that.

Madeleine Allbright (Credit:

Madeleine Allbright (Credit:

However, in Powell’s response in the email exchange mentioned above, Powell clearly said he doesn’t recall Albright even asking that question, but did remember the email he exchanged with Clinton on January 23, 2009. Conason appears to be confusing the email with the dinner party. (New York Times, 08/18/16)

Then Conason writes an article for Newsweek on August 22, 2016 accusing Powell of giving “a very different answer” several months earlier. He quotes from the email exchange he had with Cifrino: “[Powell] does recall sharing with Secretary Clinton his use of his email account and how useful it was and trans-formative for the Department. He knew nothing then or until recently about her private home server and a personal domain, nor, therefore, could he have advised her on that or suggested it. By June I would assume her email system was already set up.”

Conason then comments in Newsweek: “So it is perplexing for him to say he doesn’t remember that dinner conversation at all now, since, according to his own assistant, he remembered at least some of what he said as recently as two months ago.”

Condileeza Rice and Colin Powell (Credit: public domain)

Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell (Credit: public domain)

Note Conason doesn’t quote Powell’s response to the question about the party, and instead gives Powell’s answer about the January 2009 email exchange with Clinton. (Newsweek, 08/16/16)

Additionally, the email leak will also include an exchange between Powell and Rice on August 28, 2016. Powell writes, “I was [with] Maddy [Madeline Albright] the other evening and she doesn’t remember an email conversation or even asking us a question recently.”

Rice writes back, ” Yes — I’m sure it never came up.”

Thus, not only does Conason misquote Powell, but the alleged Albright question at her party may never have happened at all.

Colin Powell expresses anger and frustration over being tied to Clinton’s email scandal.

Vernon Jordan (Credit: Akin Gump)

Vernon Jordan (Credit: Akin Gump)

Many of Powell’s emails indicate he’s angry about being tied to Clinton’s emails and his disdain is not just reserved for Trump. The Washington Post suggests, “Clinton’s decision to cite his use of private email as secretary of state to justify her private email server has clearly proven a sore spot — both in these emails and in previous Powell comments.”

On May 29, 2016, Powell writes to former top Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, “I have told Hilleary’s [sic] minions repeatedly that they are making a mistake trying to drag me in, yet they still try,”  “The media isn’t fooled and she is getting crucified. The differences are profound and they know it.” (Washington Post, 09/14/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

Colin Powell writes, “I didn’t tell Hillary to have a private server at home.”

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Ken Duberstein (Credit: Washington Speakers)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell writes an email to former Reagan White House chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein. “I didn’t tell Hillary [Clinton] to have a private server at home, connected to the Clinton Foundation, two contractors, took away 60,000 emails, had her own domain.”

On the same day, in a separate email to Condoleeza Rice, who succeeded him as secretary of state, Powell writes, “Been on the phone and email all afternoon. Hillary and Elijah Cummings have popped off.”

Also on this day, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a memo after reviewing the email practices of the past five secretaries of state. It was determined that 12 emails obtained by the inspector general contained classified national security information, two of which went to the personal email account of Powell and ten of which went to the personal email accounts of the immediate staff of Rice. The memo also states that the information was not marked as classified.

Elijah Cummings (Credit: public domain)

Elijah Cummings (Credit: public domain)

Representative Elijah Cummings (D) releases a statement in response to the OIG’s findings, and concludes, “Based on this new revelation, it is clear that the Republican investigations are nothing more than a transparent political attempt to use taxpayer funds to target the Democratic candidate for President.” (House Oversight Committee, 02/04/16)

Two days later, Rice writes back to Powell, “I don’t think Hillary’s — ‘everyone did it,’ is flying.” (Politico, 09/13/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.