Former Secretary of State and retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, in newly leaked emails, criticized both major presidential candidates, calling Donald Trump "a national disgrace" and lamenting Hillary Clinton's attempt to equate her email practices with his.
The emails were first reported by Buzzfeed News late Tuesday. Powell, a respected former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who served under Republican presidential administrations, told BuzzFeed that he does not deny the emails' authenticity. In a subsequent statement to NBC News, Powell said "the hackers have a lot more" of his emails.
In the emails, Powell said he stayed relatively quiet during the rise of Trump, the Republican presidential nominee. "To go on and call him an idiot just emboldens him," Powell said.
The emails also include Powell's thoughts on Clinton's email woes. He criticized Clinton aides for tying him into the controversy over the Democratic nominee's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Powell has acknowledged using a commercial email address for some official business. Clinton avoided using the State Department's email completely, using a private email server.
In an email reported by NBC, Powell wrote that he had told Clinton's "minions repeatedly that they are making a mistake trying to drag me in, yet they still try." In another spot, he declared of Clinton that "Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris."
Among Powell's emails, however, are comments that reflect that he too sought to use private email as a way to avoid creating documents retained by the government. Decrying "friggin record rules," Powell wrote that he "saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine," in one email cited by The Intercept. "As long as the stuff is unclassified."
Congressional Democrats have seized on the use of a private email addresses by Powell and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a foil for Republican attacks on Clinton. By suggesting that he didn't view work conducted via private email as a permanent government record, Powell could offer those Democrats additional ammunition.
The emails were posted on the website DCLeaks.com, a website which has been alleged to be an outlet for hackers tied to Russian intelligence groups. The website — which says it intends to expose the misuse of political power —has previously released emails from other Washington political figures.