Hillary Clinton reportedly told FBI that Colin Powell advised her to use private email

Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, and Hillary Clinton in 2014
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In her interview with the FBI about her use of a private email server while secretary of state, Hillary Clinton said that one of her predecessors, Colin Powell, had advised her to use her personal email account in office, The New York Times reports, citing notes the FBI turned over to Congress this week, as relayed by "a person with direct knowledge of Mr. Powell's appearance in the documents, who would not speak for attribution." Powell also reportedly exchanged emails with Clinton in 2009 about his email practices while secretary of state. The FBI typically seals notes from closed investigations, and the FBI had specifically requested these files not be "disseminated or disclosed."

The Times did not just rely on a congressional leak, however. According to an advance copy of Joe Conason's new book on Bill Clinton's post-presidency, Powell gave her the email counsel at a dinner hosted by Madeleine Albright, in which Albright asked Powell and two other former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice, to give Clinton one piece of advice. Powell, Conason said, "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, [Powell] thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages."

Clinton apparently relied on her private email account for all email communication while secretary of state, and unlike Powell, she used a private server. On Thursday, Powell's office told The New York Times that Powell had no recollection of that dinner conversation, but had written Clinton a memo describing his use of a personal email account "and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department."

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.