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On Friday afternoon, the FBI released a lengthy batch of documents detailing their investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State.


While focused primarily on the granular details regarding when, how, and why Clinton chose to conduct state business through her own email address and server, the FBI's (frequently redacted) data dump does seem to offer one wholly inescapable conclusion:

Hillary Clinton should have listened to Colin Powell.

According to the FBI's investigation, Clinton approached Powell in 2009 to discuss his own use of a BlackBerry during his tenure in the State Department. In response to her query, Powell reportedly cautioned Clinton that if it became public that she was using her smartphone to "do business," her messages could become "official record[s] and subject to the law."

In other words, Powell seemed to have had a pretty good idea what could—and eventually would—happen to Clinton's emails.

This is not, in fact, the first time Powell has been named as a player in the ongoing saga of Clinton's private email use. In August, The New York Times reported Clinton had told the FBI that Powell had explicitly advised her to use a personal email address—a report somewhat corroborated by an excerpt from a forthcoming book on Bill Clinton, in which author Joe Conason alleges that Powell advised Clinton at a dinner party to use a private email address for everything but classified messages.


According to the documents released by the FBI on Friday, Powell told Clinton: "Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much, and not using systems that captured the data."

Here's the pertinent section from the FBI's report:


As the Wall Street Journal points out, several weeks later, Clinton transferred her email address from an AT&T-run service to a private email server, which would eventually transmit and story tens of thousands of emails subsequently determined to be work-related.

While Powell did not respond to the Journal following this latest release of information from the FBI, he did respond to the New York Times' August report, explaining that his use of a personal email account (he never used a private server) for non-classified communications "vastly improved communications within the State Department."


Clinton, for her part, is taking the FBI's latest release in stride. In a statement to the Journal, a Clinton campaign spokesperson said:

We are pleased that the FBI has released the materials from Hillary Clinton’s interview, as we had requested. While her use of a single email account was clearly a mistake and she has taken responsibility for it, these materials make clear why the Justice Department believed there was no basis to move forward with this case


In their final assessment of Clinton's email use, Bureau director James Comey stated that while the FBI "did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information."

Per the FBI's recommendation, the Justice Department subsequently declined to pursue charges.

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