Live from BushLand: Does Colin Powell want to have a reputation? Did Colin Powell suggest that Hillary Clinton should use her private email account as Secretary of State? Yes. Did he remember so advising her? Yes. Does he remember that now? He claims not to...

Joe Conason: [Did Colin Powell Advise Clinton To Use A Private Email?][]:

Did Colin Powell suggest that Hillary Clinton should use her private email account as secretary of state—as he had admittedly done in that same job several years earlier?...

In Man of the World: The Further Endeavors of Bill Clinton, to be published in September by Simon & Schuster, I report on a dinner party that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hosted for Hillary Clinton several months after she assumed that office in 2009, with Powell in attendance:

Toward the end of the evening, over dessert, Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel [to Clinton]…. Powell suggested that she use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer on his desk. Saying that his use of personal email had been transformative for the department, Powell thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier.

Following up on my book, which the Times received in advance of publication, reporter Amy Chozick discovered that Clinton had mentioned her conversation with Powell—as well as an email exchange with him on the same matter—when the FBI interviewed the Democratic presidential nominee during its probe of her private email use at the State Department. Powell’s office then released a statement saying he “has no recollection of the dinner conversation,” which he has since repeated to other news outlets. While hardly a denial, his response seems designed to cast doubt on the story. Over the weekend, he told a reporter for the New York Post’s Page Six, “Her people have been trying to pin it on me,” with evident annoyance. “The truth is she was using [her personal email] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did,” he said.

But last June, while reporting on Powell’s advice to Clinton for my book, I contacted his office for comment—and got a very different answer. His principal assistant, Margaret “Peggy” Cifrino, informed me then via email that their calendar showed that the Albright dinner had occurred in June 2009. While he didn’t recall some details of the dinner because it had occurred seven years ago, according to Cifrino, he remembered what he did and didn’t say to Clinton on the topic in question that evening:

He does recall sharing with Secretary Clinton his use of his email account and how useful it was and transformative for the Department. He knew nothing then or until recently about her private home server and a personal domain, nor, therefore, could he have advised her on that or suggested it. By June I would assume her email system was already set up....

For him to say he doesn’t remember that dinner conversation at all now... [when,] according to his own assistant, he remembered at least some of what he said as recently as two months ago.