Hillary Clinton refused on Wednesday to answer direct questions about her claim — one she reportedly made to the FBI last month — that former Sec. of State Colin Powell advised her at a 2009 dinner party to use a personal email account.
“I’m not going to re-litigate in public my private conversations with him,” Clinton told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview, her first national interview in nearly a month.
Clinton’s hesitation in discussing the dinner party claims is no surprise given that both Powell and former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice, who also attended the now-infamous dinner party, have publicly said they do not recall the exchange. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Condi Rice Has No Recollection Of Colin Powell-Clinton Dinner Party Exchange)
Last week, The New York Times and NBC News reported that Clinton told FBI investigators that Powell twice suggested to her that she use a personal email account as secretary of state.
She said that Powell provided that advice in an email conversation as well as at the dinner party, which was held at the home of former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright.
Albright is said to have asked all dinner party guests to provide Clinton with a piece of advice. Pro-Clinton reporter Joe Conason also reported the dinner party vignette in a book he is set to release next month.
Clinton offered words of praise for Powell during Wednesday’s interview.
“He was incredibly gracious and helpful before I took the job,” she said.
But the retired four-star Army general has been less effusive of Clinton of late. He was quoted over the weekend saying that Clinton’s campaign is trying to “pin” Clinton’s use of a personal email account on him.
Clinton told Cooper that she takes full responsibility for the decision to use a personal account.
I want people to know that the decision to have a single email account was mine. I’ve taken responsibility for it, I’ve apologized for it, I would certainly do differently if I could,” she said.
“When I try to explain what happened it can sound like I’m trying to excuse what I did and there are no excuses,” she added.
Clinton’s disputed account raises questions over whether she lied to the FBI during her July 2 interrogation. The FBI did not record or take a transcript of the interview. Investigators did take notes during the three-and-a-half hour session. The FBI have given those notes to Congress.