Powell, a retired 4-star general and a Republican, confirmed the authenticity of the emails to NBC News. "The hackers have a lot more," he added. The contents of the emails were first reported by Buzzfeed News. It said the messages had been obtained by the website DCLeaks.com which MSNBC reported is rumored to have ties to Russian intelligence services.
Colin Powell is still a Republican and a veteran of a Republican administration, but he's been quite candid when expressing concerns about what's become of his party. In 2013, for example, the former Secretary of State lamented the "dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party," featuring GOP voices who "look down on minorities."
To bolster his point, Powell added at the time, "The whole 'birther' movement -- why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the party?"
With this in mind, it hardly comes as a surprise that Powell condemned Donald Trump as a "national disgrace" and "international pariah" in a personal email exchange that was leaked online by hackers. NBC News reports:
The leaked materials offer an unvarnished look at Powell's perspective, including a 2015 message to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in which he described the Republicans' obsession with Benghazi as "a stupid witch hunt."
And while revelations like these are notable given Powell's public profile -- he generally remains a popular national figure -- I'm also curious about the motivations behind the leak.
Keep in mind, Powell's emails are hardly the first leak of their kind; hackers have divulged thousands of once-private communications in recent months.
But in practically every instance, the leaks have been intended to damage Democrats and boost Donald Trump. Indeed, as noted above, Powell's emails were published online by a website with reported "ties to Russian intelligence services."
So here's my question: there's a lot we don't know about the theft of Powell's private messages, but if Russian hackers were behind this, why leak content that makes Trump, the biggest Vladimir Putin admirer in American politics, look bad?
Or put another way, if Russia is involved in breaking into Powell's emails, does it suggest Russia is souring on Trump?