Colin Powell apparently doesn’t hold a grudge.
The Bush-era Secretary of State said Tuesday afternoon that he would be voting for Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she had tried to use him as an excuse for setting up her infamous private email server.
At a luncheon in Long Island, Powell gave an unreserved endorsement to his fellow former top diplomat, according to Newsday reporter Robert Brodsky, saying that she would serve with distinction and has the experience to be president. Powell added that Trump, on the other hand, is “selling people a bill of goods," is not qualified, and “insults us every day.”
He could be forgiven if there had been some hard feelings. Facing an email scandal that threatened her campaign for the White House, Clinton had thrown Powell under the bus, telling the F.B.I. that Powell's had told her to use a personal email account.
The revelation that she had possibly threatened national security with this arrangement, and the ensuing controversy around the FBI’s decision not to prosecute her, continues to define her image and the American public’s view of her trustworthiness.
"Her people have been trying to pin it on me," Powell told People magazine at an event in the Hamptons in New York this past summer. “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 had been in the public spotlight for decades, serving mainly in Republican administrations -- and even mentioned as a possible presidential contender over the past decade.
He was a national security adviser to Ronald Reagan, served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the George H.W. Bush administration, and continued in that position for less than a year under Clinton’s administration. He later served as Secretary of State for four years under President George W. Bush.
In 2008 Powell diverged from his party to support Barack Obama despite having been friends with Republican presidential candidate John McCain for decades.
“I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the world -- onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama,” Powell said at the time, adding that he found the McCain’s focus on Obama’s ties to former militant William Ayers to be distasteful.
But this cycle, he has resisted declaring his support for either candidate, instead chiding Trump as a “national disgrace.”
In hacked emails, released to the public last month, Powell was also seen bashing Clinton, of whom he said: “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” He savaged her as “greedy, not transformational,” and added: “I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect.”
But at the Long Island Association fall luncheon on Tuesday, all this private sentiment melted away into what Brodsky called a "full throated" public endorsement -- just the latest twist in a campaign full of them.