Several Washington news organizations got a look into former Secretary of State and retired four-star general Colin Powell's email in early September. Topics that he emailed about on his personal Gmail ranged from Hillary Clinton's email scandal to efforts to build democracy in post-invasion Iraq. Pair that with the well-known insiders he corresponded with — everyone from Condoleezza Rice to Clinton's confidant Cheryl Mills — and these are a must-read. One thing is clear no matter the topic: he didn't mince his words on what he thought was a private communications channel. These nine quotes from Powell's emails give insight into what he really thinks about a number of topics and people.
The hack was first reported as an exclusive by The Daily Caller with follow-up pieces by other sites including POLITICO and BuzzFeed News. The group responsible for the hack was reportedly DC Leaks, who claim it was started by "American hacktivists who respect and appreciate freedom of speech, human rights, and government of the people." It reportedly has links to the Russian government, but that has not been confirmed by the organization or others.
Currently, the Powell leaks are password protected, but select journalists were invited to read them. There's quite a trove to choose from, as many date back to more than a year ago. Powell has chosen not to comment on some, while others he has said he won't deny. Here are the top nine quotes:
1. What He Really Thinks About Trump
In a June email to Emily Miller, a journalist who once worked as Powell's aide, he called Trump a "national disgrace" and an "international pariah," Buzzfeed News reported.
2. Birthers Are Racist
"Yup, the whole birther movement was racist. That's what the 99% believe. When Trump couldn't keep that up he said he also wanted to see if the certificate noted that he was a Muslim," Powell wrote to Miller in August. He added that it wouldn't matter if Obama were Muslim as "Muslims are born as Americans everyday."
3. Back To The Other Candidate
POLITICO reported that in a February email to former Reagan White House Chief Of Staff Kenneth Duberstein, Powell vented about being included in Clinton's email scandal defense. "I didn't tell Hillary to have a private server at home, connected to the Clinton Foundation, two contractors, took away 60,000 emails, had her own domain," Powell wrote. Except that he kind of did.
4. Benghazi Was A Witch Hunt
He may pin the emails purely on Clinton, but not the other Republican-led conspiracy (which ironically led to the private email server), Buzzfeed News reported. "Benghazi is a stupid witch hunt. Basic fault falls on a courageous ambassador who thoughts Libyans now love me and I am ok in this very vulnerable place," Powell wrote to former Secretary of State Rice, who was also his successor.
5. He Thinks Clinton Screwed Up The Email Scandal...
The Intercept reported what Powell said to one confidant: "HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me to it. I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton's party to get their attention. She keeps tripping into these 'character' minefields."
6. ...But He'll Still Hint About When His Clinton Endorsement Is Coming
"You'll recall that in 2008 and 2012 I waited until early fall," Powell wrote in late July to former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman who already endorsed Clinton, according to The Daily Caller.
7. He Thinks Trump Looks Like He'll Lose Anyway...
Back in August when Trump was in the midst of his feud with the Khan family, Powell backed off a bit. The Daily Caller reported that a longtime friend, Harlan Ullman, asked him when he'd deliver the "knockout blow" to Trump, presumably by endorsing Clinton. "I try not to bother someone who is beating himself and the GOP up. And please, don't start bugging me like every newsie and getter in town. If and when I do it will be known," Powell responded.
8. ...Which Is Likely Given His Team
Powell's doubtful Trump can increase his women vote, especially given that the ousted Fox News chairman and CEO, who faces sexual harassment accusations, is on his team. "And Ailes as an advisor won't heal women, don't you think?" Powell wrote Miller in August, according to Buzzfeed.
9. Ultimately, Though, He Blames Trump On The Media
"You guys are playing his game, you are his oxygen," Powell wrote to CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria after being asked to talk about Trump to the press in December, Buzzfeed reported. "I will watch and pick the timing, not respond to the latest outrage," Powell added. In a separate email to someone else, Powell said calling Trump an idiot just "emboldens him."
Now that the world knows what Powell thinks, it will be curious to hear Trump's response.
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