CASPER — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell may have served in the George W. Bush administration, but he showed little affection for Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz, whom he called idiots, in a newly released trove of leaked emails.
In separate emails between Powell and Condoleezza Rice, who succeeded him as Secretary of State, Rice said Cheney needs to spend quality time with his grandchildren and let the past go.
The emails, posted on the website DCLeaks.com and first reported by Buzzfeed News late Tuesday, offer insight into the unvarnished opinions of Powell, a retired Army general and statesman. The Cheneys are one of the most prominent political families from Wyoming. Liz Cheney is campaigning to represent Wyoming in the U.S. House.
The email messages run from March 2015 through last month and also illustrate the retired four-star general’s thoughts on Donald Trump, whom he called “a national disgrace,” and his own Republican Party, which he described as “crashing and burning.”
Powell also laments Hillary Clinton’s attempt to equate her use of private email at the State Department with his.
The Star-Tribune asked Liz Cheney and longtime Dick Cheney aide Kara Ahern for a response to Powell’s and Rice’s comments. They did not reply.
Powell, 79, did not respond Wednesday to a phone message or email seeking comment. He earlier told BuzzFeed that he does not deny the emails’ authenticity.
In September 2015, the Cheneys published “Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America.” The book came up during an email exchange between Powell and Kenneth Duberstein, White House chief of staff under President Ronald Regan, according to BuzzFeed, which obtained a copy of the email.
“They are idiots and spent force peddling a book that ain’t going nowhere,” Powell wrote.
“See acknowledgement in Cheney’s new book,” Duberstein wrote in a separate email to Powell. “Scary.”
“Scary and the usual suspects. Will pass without a trace with most Americans,” Powell replied, according to BuzzFeed.
In the book’s two-page acknowledgements section, the Cheneys thanked close family and friends for their support of their book project, including Ahern. Most are Washington conservative insiders, such as Scooter Libby, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer.
DCLeaks.com has been alleged to be an outlet for hackers tied to Russian intelligence groups. The website, which says it intends to expose the misuse of political power, has previously released emails from other Washington political figures.
The release of Powell’s emails is the latest in a string of leaks that appear intended to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The FBI is investigating how thousands of Democratic National Committee emails were hacked and released, an embarrassing breach that Clinton’s campaign maintains was committed by Russia to benefit Trump.
Powell and Rice criticized Dick Cheney’s and Bush’s loyalty to former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to Politico.
“One day when we both have had too many drinks we can discuss why [President George W. Bush] tolerated him and why Dick, a successful SecDef, was so committed to Don,” Politico said Powell sent on Dec. 16.
Cheney was secretary of defense under George H.W. Bush.
Cheney sat for an interview with a Fox News reporter, which became a book released in November, “Cheney One on One: A Candid Conversation with America’s Most Controversial Statesman.” Politico said the book examined the Iraq War and other controversies during the Bush years.
Rice wrote that Cheney needs to “concentrate on quality time with his grandkids and let it go.”
“Hee, hee, he won’t,” Powell replied on Nov. 26.
Rice wrote that Cheney should “go away already!” according to Politico.
In the emails, Powell said he stayed relatively quiet during the rise of Trump, the Republican presidential nominee. “To go on and call him an idiot just emboldens him,” Powell said.
To a former aide he writes, “No need to debate it with you now, but Trump is a national disgrace and an international pariah.”
He also criticized Trump for backing the false claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
“All his lies and nonsense just pile up,” Powell wrote. “I just go back to the unforgivable one. Trying to destroy the President elected by the American people with his fictitious investigation into this source of birth. Absolutely disgraceful.”
Trump, in a Twitter post late Wednesday, said, “I was never a fan of Colin Powell after his weak understanding of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq = disaster. We can do much better!”
Powell also suggests frustration with the state of the nation’s politics.
“We all need to start voting for America and not our parties,” Powell writes. “Trump is taking on water. He doesn’t have a GOP philosophy or even a Conservative philosophy. We need a revolution and it will begin with the GOP crashing and burning up its current form.”
Powell’s leaked messages include his thoughts on Clinton’s lingering email woes. He criticized Clinton aides for tying him into the controversy over the Democratic nominee’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
Powell has acknowledged using a private email account with both senior U.S. officials and for back-channel communications with foreign dignitaries. Clinton used a private email server located in the basement of her New York home.
Powell wrote that he had told Clinton’s “minions repeatedly that they are making a mistake trying to drag me in, yet they still try.” In another spot, he declared of Clinton that “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”
The messages contain comments that reflect that he, too, sought to use private email as a way to avoid creating documents retained by the government. Decrying “friggin record rules,” Powell wrote that he “saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine.”
Congressional Democrats have seized on the use of a private email addresses by Powell and Rice as a foil for Republican attacks on Clinton. By suggesting that he didn’t view work conducted via private email as a permanent government record, Powell could offer those Democrats additional ammunition.
By Laura Hancock, Casper Star Tribune
and The Associated Press