Seeking to defend Hillary Clinton from recent criticism of her use of private email at the State Department, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released on Wednesday night her January 2009 e-mail exchange with former Secretary of State Colin Powell regarding use of a personal device and e-mail as the nation’s top diplomat.
Clinton wrote to Powell about his own email practices, after President Obama’s successful effort to keep his BlackBerry as president.
“What were the restrictions on your use of your BlackBerry?” Clinton asked Powell on the morning of January 23, 2009, two days after she was sworn in as Secretary of State.
“President Obama has struck a blow for berry addicts like us,” she wrote. “I just have to figure out how to bring along the State Dept.”
Powell, in his reply, said he didn’t have a Blackberry, but used a personal computer hooked up to a private phone line to communicate with friends and world leaders “without it going through the State Department servers.”
The email exchange “illustrates the longstanding problem that no Secretary of State ever used an official unclassified email account” until Clinton, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement.
ABC News has reached out to Powell for comment on the release of the email exchange.
Powell, who did not have a private server, recently spoke out against claims that his email practices excused Clinton’s own use of a private email server, or that her advised her to set up such a system in any way.
“Her people have been trying to pin it on me,” he told People magazine in August. “She was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.”
Since then, Clinton has taken full responsibility for her personal email use for official State Department business.
In his 2009 email to Clinton, Powell warned her to be “very careful” about using her own email account for government business.
The FBI described the substance of their email exchange in the notes the agency released last week from their interview with Clinton.
House and Senate Republicans have continued their investigations into Clinton’s private email setup, following FBI director James Comey’s conclusion that the former secretary of state was “extremely careless” with her handling of classified information, but did not knowingly send or receive it.