By Nick Gass
08/19/16 11:54 AM EDT
Updated 08/19/16 12:25 PM EDT
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell "has no recollection of the dinner conversation" recounted by Hillary Clinton to FBI agents, as documented by journalist Joe Conason in a forthcoming book.
Conason's anecdote, reported Thursday night by The New York Times, recounts a small dinner party at Clinton's Georgetown home toward the beginning of her time as secretary of state, with former secretaries Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice also in attendance. During that dinner, Conason reports, Albright asked the former secretaries to impart advice to Clinton.
“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," Conason wrote in his book "Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton,” of which the Times said it acquired an advance copy. Powell, according to Conason's account, told Clinton that "his use of personal email had been transformative for the department" and “thus confirmed a decision [Clinton] had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.”
A spokeswoman for Powell's office issued a statement following the Times' story: "General Powell has no recollection of the dinner conversation. He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department."
"At the time there was no equivalent system within the Department. He used a secure State computer on his desk to manage classified information," the statement continued. "The General no longer has the email he sent to former Secretary Clinton. It may exist in State or FBI files."
A spokeswoman for Powell referred to a chapter in his 2012 book "It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership" for further details about Powell's use of personal email. Unlike Clinton, Powell did not use outside contractors or a personal server in his home.
Powell’s pushback comes amid an ongoing legal dispute between Clinton’s lawyers and Judicial Watch over whether the conservative legal watchdog group can depose the former secretary of state as part of its lawsuit over State Department records.
"It was recommended that it would be convenient, and I thought it would be. It’s turned out to be anything but," Clinton said of her email setup during a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on July 24 but was taped days earlier. She did not specify who had made the recommendation.
Hours after Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination, her lawyer David Kendall filed a pleading with U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan describing that statement as “completely consistent with her many other statements on this topic.”
"Judicial Watch claims to want to know who recommended that using private e-mail would be convenient. As counsel to Secretary Clinton has previously explained, however, Judicial Watch is not entitled to FOIA discovery, let alone a deposition of a former Cabinet Secretary, merely to satisfy its curiosity," Kendall and several colleagues wrote.
"This Court granted limited discovery for the purpose of determining whether there is evidence substantiating Judicial Watch’s allegation that 'the State Department and Mrs. Clinton sought to deliberately thwart FOIA.' ... Nothing in Secretary Clinton’s remarks on 60 Minutes suggests that she or the State Department intended to thwart FOIA, and therefore they bear no relevance to that question. Her remarks do not justify the extraordinary measure of a deposition," they argued.
Sullivan has not yet ruled on whether Judicial Watch may be allowed to depose Clinton, and, if so, in what format.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/colin-powell-clinton-email-book-227200#ixzz4HtO71xGU