Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice has no recollection of a conversation at a 2009 dinner party where Hillary Clinton reportedly claims that Gen. Colin Powell advised her to use a personal email account.
Rice’s inability to recall the conversation makes her the second person to publicly undercut Clinton’s claim.
Both NBC News and The New York Times reported last week that Clinton told the FBI that Powell offered her the email advice during a dinner party at former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright’s home.
Rice and another Henry Kissinger, another former secretary of state, were present at the dinner party, where the former diplomats were asked to provide Clinton with advice to help her tackle her new job.
Joe Conason, a liberal reporter who is a staunch Clinton supporter, also reported details of the dinner party conversation in a book he is set to publish next month.
According to The Times:
Mr. Conason describes a conversation in the early months of Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department at a small dinner party hosted by Madeleine Albright, another former secretary of state, at her home in Washington. Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice also attended.
“Toward the end of the evening, over dessert, Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel to the nation’s next top diplomat,” Mr. Conason writes. “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.”
The identity of Conason’s source is unclear. But according to The Times, he interviewed both Hillary and Bill Clinton for his book.
Powell issued a statement on Friday claiming that he had no recollection of that exchange. On Saturday, he told reporters that he felt that Clinton’s team is trying to “pin” her decision to use a personal email system on him.
It is possible that that Rice was not present at the dinner table when Powell provided his advice, though Conason’s book suggests that all of the former secretaries of state were there.
Georgia Godfrey, Rice’s chief of staff at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where Rice teaches, tells The Daily Caller that Rice does not recall the discussion.
“Dr. Rice’s isn’t doing any media right now. I can tell you though that she has no recollection of that conversation either,” Godfrey told TheDC.
Clinton has sought to downplay her “extremely careless” email practices — as FBI director James Comey called them last month — by pointing to Powell’s own use of a personal email account.
But Powell’s email practices were quite different than Clinton’s. He used an AOL account while Clinton paid a State Department employee under the table to manage her email system, which involved a personal account and a private server.
Powell also says he used the State Department’s classified system to send and receive emails with classified information. Clinton declined to use that system, even though she was provided with an account on it. Instead, she sent and received all of her emails from her personal, non-government BlackBerry. More than 2,000 of those emails have been retroactively classified. More than 100 contained information that was classified at the time the emails were originated.
Rice did not use email at all during her tenure.