State Department officials have determined that classified information was sent to the personal email accounts of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the senior staff of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, NBC News reported on Thursday.
Powell challenged the conclusion, telling NBC that nothing that went to his personal account was secret; Rice was unavailable for comment.
The findings will be seen as helpful to Hillary Clinton, because they show that past secretaries of state and senior officials used personal accounts to conduct government business and occasionally allowed secrets to spill into the insecure traffic.
Powell, however, sought to draw a distinction between his use of a private email account and Clinton’s use of a private home server through which all of her government-related email was routed.
"It's a lot different from what the rest of us were doing and what Mrs. Clinton is doing,” said Powell, a longtime Republican who endorsed President Obama.
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said: “This announcement about Secretary Powell’s emails shows just how routine it is for government bureaucrats to go overboard when it comes to judging whether information is too sensitive for the public to see. Hillary Clinton agrees with her predecessor that his emails, like hers, are being inappropriately subjected to over-classification. She joins his call for these emails to be released so that the public can view the contents for itself.”