New Twists And Turns In Hillary Clinton Dinner Party Email Claims

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Retired Gen. Colin Powell is being accused by a pro-Hillary Clinton journalist of giving conflicting accounts of a 2009 dinner party he attended with then-Sec. of State Clinton and several of her predecessors.

But Powell’s longtime assistant tells The Daily Caller that the journalist, Joe Conason, has misrepresented what she told him about that dinner party.

The New York Times reported last week that Conason is set to publish a book next month in which he provides details of the 2009 dinner party, which former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright hosted at her home.

Powell, Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Henry Kissinger were among those in attendance.

Conason reported that Albright asked all of the attendees to give Clinton advice for her new job. Conason, who runs the website National Memo and is a staunch defender of Clinton’s, reported that Powell suggested to Clinton at the dinner party that she use a personal email account.

According to NBC News, Clinton told FBI investigators about the dinner party exchange. She also said that Powell made a recommendation through email encouraging her to use an email account.

Powell issued a statement last week saying that he had no recollection of the dinner party conversation. He did say that he mentioned that he used a personal email account while at State in an email exchange with Clinton.

A spokeswoman for Condoleezza Rice, who replaced Powell and served just before Clinton, told The Daily Caller the same thing about the dinner party — that Rice has no memory of Powell advising Clinton to use a personal email account during the shindig. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Condi Rice Also Has No Recollection Of Powell-Clinton Email Discussion)

But Conason is now calling Powell’s memory — if not his integrity — into question and suggesting that he has given conflicting accounts in order to avoid being dragged into the Clinton email fiasco.

In a Newsweek article published on Monday, Conason cites an email exchange he had last June with Peggy Cifrino, Powell’s assistant.

“But last June, while reporting on Powell’s advice to Clinton for my book, I contacted his office for comment — and got a very different answer,” wrote Conason, who is also a friend of Sidney Blumenthal, the Clinton confidant who frequently emailed her intelligence reports as secretary of state.

Conason claimed that Cifrino informed him via email that Powell did recall giving Clinton advice about email at the dinner party.

Conason shared the following portion of an email exchange he had with Cifrino:

He does recall sharing with Secretary Clinton his use of his email account and how useful it was and transformative for the Department. He knew nothing then or until recently about her private home server and a personal domain, nor, therefore, could he have advised her on that or suggested it. By June I would assume her email system was already set up.

Conason wrote that that exchange shows that “it is perplexing for [Powell] to say he doesn’t remember that dinner conversation at all now, since, according to his own assistant, he remembered at least some of what he said as recently as two months ago.”

But Cifrino tells The Daily Caller that Conason is misrepresenting what she told him and that she was talking about Powell’s advice to Clinton in an email exchange, not at a dinner party.

“In those exchanges, I specifically told him that General Powell did NOT recall any dinner conversation about emails,” she said.

“But in any event, the dinner was held in mid June – so she had already been using her private email for 6 months,” Cifrino continued.

Clinton used a personal email account from Day 1 at the State Department for all of her email exchanges. She began using a private server in March 2009. Powell used an AOL account to send and receive emails — a practice he wrote about in his memoirs — but he has said he used the State Department’s classified system to send and receive classified information.

Clinton was provided an account on the classified network but she never used it.

Conason did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment and clarification. Cifrino declined to share her email exchange, saying that she did not want to get into the business of releasing email conversations to the press.

Cifrino said that Conason selectively worded his Newsweek article in a way that gave the impression that she said Powell recalled discussing email at the Albright dinner.

“He did not and I never said he did,” she told TheDC.

She also said that Conason initially mentioned January 2009 as the date for the dinner. But after she searched through Powell’s calendars she found that the dinner occurred in June. She informed Conason of the correct month.

She also said that she told Conason that Powell did not recall Albright asking dinner guests to give advice to Clinton.

On Saturday, Powell told reporters with People magazine and New York Post’s Page Six that Clinton and her campaign team were trying to “pin” her decision to use personal email on him.

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