NYT: Clinton told FBI Colin Powell advised her to use private email server

Last Updated Aug 19, 2016 2:34 PM EDT

Hillary Clinton told the FBI that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had advised her to use a personal email account when she served in that position, The New York Times reported Friday.

According to the Times, “The account is included in the notes the Federal Bureau of Investigation handed over to Congress on Tuesday, relaying in detail the three-and-a-half-hour interview with Mrs. Clinton in early July that led to the decision by James B. Comey, the bureau’s director, not to pursue criminal charges against her.”

Powell later said in a statement to the Associated Press that he had indeed emailed Clinton about using his personal AOL account for unclassified messages while leading the State department. 

Powell said he told Clinton his use of personal email “vastly improved” communications within the department, which at the time did not have an equivalent internal system.

Powell said the FBI may have obtained a copy of his memo to Clinton during its year-long investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to handle sensitive information during her time as secretary. The FBI closed its investigation last month without finding evidence to support criminal charges against the Democratic presidential nominee.

This, as a new book about Bill Clinton reports that former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised Hillary Clinton to use a personal email account when she took over the job.

Veteran political journalist Joe Conason writes that several former secretaries of state, including Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice, had dinner with Clinton early in her tenure, which began in 2009.

Conason writes that Powell,who served under President George W. Bush, told Clinton he had used personal email in the job, except for classified communications.

The description of the conversation appears in Conason’s forthcoming book “Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton,” about the ex-president’s life after the White House.

But the Times says Powell’s office released a statement Thursday night “saying he had no recollection of the dinner conversation. He did write Mrs. Clinton an email memo, which may existin 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.”

Conason is described by the newspaper as a “longtime defender of the Clintons.”

The Times notes that, “Mrs. Clinton and her campaign have repeatedly pointed to the use of personal email by Mr. Powell and other government officials to try and explain the email controversy to voters, but Mrs. Clinton has not said publicly that Mr. Powell personally recommended that she rely on a private account.”

The newspaper adds that Clinton’s use of the private email server “has created particular controversy because of her family’s foundation and its donors, who had varying political and business interests while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state.”

Bill Clinton said Thursday the foundation would no longer accept foreign and corporate donations if Hillary she is elected president.