Former U.S. Secretary of State Powell brushes off Clinton over emails

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Hillary Clinton Says Colin Powell Advised Her To Use Personal Email

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell over the weekend dismissed reports that Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told federal investigators that it was at his suggestion that she used a personal email account, according to a media report.

Powell, who served as the nation's top diplomat under Republican president George W. Bush, told People magazine that while he did send Clinton a memo about his own email practices, Clinton had already chosen to use personal email rather than a government account while she had the job.

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Clinton, who faces Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, has been dogged for more than a year about questions over her use of private email account and a personal computer server while she was secretary of state from 2009-2013, during President Barack Obama's first term.

"Her people have been trying to pin it on me ... The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did," Powell told People on Saturday.

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Powell brushes off Clinton over emails
Former US Secretaries of State Colin Powell (L) and Hillary Clinton speak during a ceremony to break ground on the US Diplomacy Center at the US State Department in Washington, DC, September 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 03: Secretary of State John Kerry (R) is joined by former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton (C) and Colin Powell during the ceremonial groundbreaking for the future U.S. Diplomacy Center at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building September 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. When completed, the Diplomacy Center will be a museum and education center that will 'demonstrate the ways in which diplomacy matters now and has mattered throughout American history.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Hillary Clinton (L) and General Colin Powell attend the 'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' premiere presented by The Weinstein Company and sponsored by American Express and South African Airlines at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 07: Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell (R) jokes with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an unveiling ceremony for his official State Department portrait in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department December 7, 2009 in Washington, DC. Powell served as Secretary of State from 2001-2005 under former U.S. President George W. Bush. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell embraces US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the unveiling of Powell's official State Department portrait in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department in Washington, DC, on December 7, 2009. Powell served as Secretary of State from 2001-2005 under former US President George W. Bush. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Colin Powell, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, share a moment, during a luncheon for governors and other leaders during the President's Summit for America's Future in Philadelphia, April 28. Powell is serving as the summit's general chairman. USA
From left, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President George Bush and retired U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell applaud a performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra during closing ceremonies of the Presidents' Summit For America's Future at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Tuesday afternoon, April 29, 1997. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
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Last week, the New York Times reported that Clinton told federal investigators probing the issue that Powell, who was secretary of state from 2001 to 2005, had suggested she use personal email for unclassified email when the two spoke over dinner. The conversation occurred "in the early months" of Clinton's tenure at the State Department, the Times said, citing a forthcoming book by journalist Joe Conason that first reported the dinner exchange.

That revelation came as the Federal Bureau of Investigation last week turned over a number of documents to the U.S. Congress related to its probe into the emails. The FBI recommended against criminal charges for Clinton, but Clinton has been widely criticized by Republicans over the issue.

Representatives for Powell, in a separate statement to NBC news, said he had no recollection of the conversation with Clinton but did write to her about his use of a non-government email address.

"He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department," his office told NBC on Friday.

The email exchange occurred in 2009, according to the Times.

Both Powell and his successor in the Bush administration, Condoleezza Rice, received some classified information via personal email accounts, Reuters has reported. Clinton's additional use of a personal computer server at her home, however, broke State Department rules, an internal watchdog found.

The FBI document release to Congress has riled both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have expressed concern over the potential for politically motivated leaks by Republicans to target Clinton less than three months before the presidential election.

Republican U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz told MSNBC on Monday the documents lawmakers received "are overly redacted" and that they are asking for another version with more of the missing information so they can be made public as soon as possible.

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