FBI notes handed over to Congress this week reveal that Hillary Clinton told investigators that one of her Republican predecessors as Secretary of State, Colin Powell, advised her to use a personal email account. Powell soon issued a statement that he could recall no such conversation.
The New York Times reports that Clinton’s evidently false statement came during the three-and-a-half hour interview she gave FBI agents in early July.
It looks as if Clinton was trying to repurpose a dinner conversation she had with Powell, and other former Secretaries of State, well after she had already decided to set up her secret email server:
The journalist Joe Conason first reported the conversation between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Powell in his coming book about Bill Clinton’s postpresidency, “Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton,” which The Times received an advanced copy of.
Mr. Conason describes a conversation in the early months of Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department at a small dinner party hosted by Madeleine Albright, another former secretary of state, at her home in Washington. Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice also attended.
“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,” Mr. Conason writes. “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.”
Mr. Conason continued, “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 Times notes that Clinton has not tried publicly claiming that Powell told her to use private email.
It was no doubt painful for writers at the pro-Clinton New York Times to admit she gave false testimony to the FBI, and to point out that the efforts by Clinton and her apologists to compare her server scheme to the use of private email by earlier Secretaries of State are absurd:
Mr. Powell’s office released a statement on Thursday night saying he had no recollection of the dinner conversation. He did write Mrs. Clinton an email memo, which may exist in the F.B.I. files, describing his use of his personal email account for unclassified messages “and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department,” the statement said.
In his memoir, “It Worked for Me,” Mr. Powell writes about his personal email, and he has taken pride in having tried to advance the antiquated technology practices at the State Department. But his use of personal email and Mrs. Clinton’s aren’t entirely parallel. Mr. Powell did not have a server at his house or rely on outside contractors, as Mrs. Clinton did at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y.
A State Department inspector general report released in May said that Mr. Powell and other senior officials had used personal email accounts for official business, but that by the time Mrs. Clinton took office the rules were clear that using a private server in such a manner was neither allowed nor encouraged because of “significant security risks.”
Powell also was not running a “nonprofit” organization that was raking in millions of dollars from special interests with business before the State Department, sending Mrs. Powell out to collect $350,000 per speech from those special interests, or delegating his staffers to give concierge service to big donors that wanted favors.
The FBI’s production of documents to Congress has been criticized by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who said the Bureau has “improperly” limited access to its files – producing an absurd situation where Hillary Clinton can’t be prosecuted for her actions, but congressional staffers who talk about her actions will be prosecuted.
The New York Post savored the irony on Thursday:
The Clinton campaign communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, scolded: “Would remind all that this material is classified. So this is leaking of classified material.”
The officials, though, didn’t seem so concerned about the safeguarding of classified information when it was housed on a private server owned by their boss, Clinton.
Indeed, Palmieri denied it even existed. “Hillary didn’t send any classified materials over email: Hillary only used her personal account for unclassified email,” Palmieri claimed in a blog post more than a year ago.
ClintonWorld doesn’t seem confident that the public will agree with the FBI’s strange decision to let Mrs. Clinton skate because she didn’t “intend” to commit gross negligence.
A public-service warning to all readers: do not, under any circumstances, believe that you will be able to peddle imaginary conversations to FBI agents without consequence. As with much of what the Clintons have done, this is a special privilege available only to political royalty with the right Party credentials.