A day after the death of Colin Powell, former President Donald Trump attacked the one-time Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state as a fake Republican and an unreliable diplomat who helped lead America into the Iraq War.
“Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the fake news media,” Trump said in a statement released Tuesday. “Hope that happens to me someday.”
Trump also bashed Powell, a registered Republican, as “a classic RINO [Republican in name only], if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans.”
He ended the comment with “[Powell] made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!”
Powell died of complications related to COVID-19 and blood cancer Monday morning. He was 84.
Since then, an array of American and foreign leaders have generally lauded him for his 35-year military career and his diplomatic work after retiring from the Defense Department.
He served as the first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the first African American secretary of state. President Joe Biden and former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton all praised him publicly in memorial remarks as a trailblazer and patriot.
Biden ordered all flags at U.S. facilities to fly at half-staff until Friday in honor of Powell’s passing.
Alongside that praise, however, critics have complained that many remembrances of Powell’s life omit his role in the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In February of that year, he appeared before the United Nations Security Council to provide justification for military action against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. That included allegations of Hussein’s government actively building weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be false.
Powell later said publicly that he regretted the mistake and his role in starting the military conflict there.
He also received criticism in GOP circles for his support of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election and his 2012 re-election, despite Powell’s ties to the Republican Party.
In an interview published Monday after his death by the Washington Post, Powell criticized Trump for refusing to accept the 2020 presidential election results and blamed him for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building by his supporters.
“It was awful,” he said. “[Trump] was going in there to overturn the government.”
Since leaving the Oval Office in January, Trump has sparred with a number of current and former U.S. officials. Recently, he attacked Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley for comments attributed to him in new books on the end of the Trump presidency, where the military leader described Trump as erratic and unbalanced.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.