Cummings Releases Full Powell Email Advising Clinton on Personal Email Use

Sep 7, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Releases Full Powell Email Advising Clinton on Personal Email Use


Washington D.C. (Sept. 7, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, publicly released an email exchange in which former Secretary of State Colin Powell advised then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the use of personal email two days after she was sworn in as Secretary.

Cummings also issued the following statement:

“This email exchange shows that Secretary Powell advised Secretary Clinton with a detailed blueprint on how to skirt security rules and bypass requirements to preserve federal records, although Secretary Clinton has made clear that she did not rely on this advice.  This email exchange also illustrates the longstanding problem that no Secretary of State ever used an official unclassified email account until the current Secretary of State. The Republican obsession with Secretary Clinton has reached a fever pitch, and they have been using taxpayer resources to single her out in a desperate and abusive attempt to hurt her presidential campaign.  If Republicans were truly concerned with transparency, strengthening FOIA, and preserving federal records, they would be attempting to recover Secretary Powell’s emails from AOL, but they have taken no steps to do so despite the fact that this period—including the run-up to the Iraq War—was critical to our nation’s history.”


In 2014, the State Department sent a letter asking Secretary Powell to provide all records—including emails from his personal email account—that were not in the State Department’s recordkeeping system.


On March 8, 2015, Secretary Powell said during an appearance on ABC’s This Week that he no longer had emails from his personal account:  “I don’t have any to turn over.  I did not keep a cache of them.  I did not print them off.  I do not have thousands of pages somewhere in my personal files.”

On October 21, 2015, the State Department sent another letter to Secretary Powell, this time asking him to contact his service provider, AOL, to determine whether any of his emails are still on their unclassified system.

As of November 6, 2015, Secretary Powell had not responded to this request, according to a letter from the State Department to the National Archives and Records Administration. 

On February 3, 2016, the State Department Inspector General issued a memo identifying emails from Secretary Powell’s personal email account that contained classified information.

On July 7, 2016, the Inspector General testified before the Oversight Committee that Secretary Powell still had not responded to the request to contact AOL to recover his emails, including those that were classified.

Cummings obtained the email exchange between Secretary Powell and Secretary Clinton through a unique statutory provision known as the “Seven Member Rule” in which any seven members of the Oversight Committee may obtain federal records from federal agencies.

Click here to read the full email exchange.

114th Congress