On ABC’s This Week, former Sec. of State Colin Powell admitted that he used a private email account for public business. Powell’s explanation of why he used a private email account amounted to a death blow for Republicans who are trying to build a scandal out of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Transcript via ABC’s This Week:
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I do want to ask you one final question on this Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy. Which, of course, put you back in the news a bit this week, as well.
You were secretary of State during the early days of e-mails. You were one of the first secretaries, I believe, to set up a personal e-mail account. And you pushed to modernize the State Department’s system.
Based on your experience, what do you make of these revelations this week and what would you recommend that she do now?
POWELL: I — I can’t speak to a — Mrs. Clinton and what she should do now. That would be inappropriate.
What I did when I entered the State Department, I found an antiquated system that had to be modernized and modernized quickly.
So we put in place new systems, bought 44,000 computers and put a new Internet capable computer on every single desk in every embassy, every office in the State Department. And then I connected it with software.
But in order to change the culture, to change the brainware, as I call it, I started using it in order to get everybody to use it, so we could be a 21st century institution and not a 19th century.
But I retained none of those e-mails and we are working with the State Department to see if there’s anything else they want to discuss with me about those e-mails.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So they want…
POWELL: (INAUDIBLE) have a stack of them.
STEPHANOPOULOS: — they’ve asked you to turn them over, but you don’t have them, is that it?
POWELL: I don’t have any — I don’t have any to turn over. I did not keep a cache of them. I did not print them off. I do not have thousands of pages somewhere in my personal files.
And, in fact, a lot of the e-mails that came out of my personal account went into the State Department system. They were addressed to State Department employees and the State.gov domain. But I don’t know if the servers the State Department captured those or not.
And most — they were all unclassified and most of them, I think, are pretty benign, so I’m not terribly concerned even if they were able to recover them.
Powell’s description of his own emails as pretty benign matches up with Rep. Adam Schiff’s description of the Hillary Clinton emails that the Benghazi committee has read. According to Sen. Chuck Schumer, Clinton’s private email system was based on the system that Powell used.
The technology available in most federal agencies is woefully outdated. It isn’t surprising that appointees would use technology that is available in the private sector because it is better. Powell’s emails from his personal account went into the State Department system because they were addressed to employees in State. The same is the case with the Clinton emails. Powell’s discussion of his own experience with his personal email account adds credibility to the claim that there is nothing to see here.
If Hillary Clinton broke the law, as some Republicans are claiming, then Colin Powell also broke the law.
The more that is revealed about the use of private email, the more it looks like Republicans are trying to make something out of nothing. It has been a bad day for the Republican Clinton email scandal, and it is only going to get worse for the Republican Party as they continue to go down what looks like a dead end.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association