Published September 15, 2016
The latest fallout from Colin Powell’s hacked emails is pitting general versus general.
While much of the attention so far regarding the leaked messages has focused on Powell's swipes at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, he repeatedly disparaged retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a top Trump military adviser. Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Flynn “a jerk” -- who “is unchained” and "right-wing nutty."
Flynn shot back with some not-so-friendly fire of his own on Wednesday.
“I’ve actually been called worse things by my little sister,” Flynn said on Fox News' “The Kelly File.”
A prominent adviser to and surrogate for Trump, Flynn was rumored to have been in consideration for running mate and also received a high-profile speaking slot at the Republican National Convention in July. Previously, Flynn served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama -- and retired a year earlier than anticipated in August 2014, becoming an outspoken critic of the president's counterterrorism policies.
While Powell admitted in an Aug. 10 email to a Washington Post reporter that he never “knew or served with Flynn,” he still sounded off on the Trump adviser.
“Talking to people in the know, his real problem was leadership and management issues at DIA. Senior staff was in incipient revolt,” Powell wrote. “He has been over the top in his comments, conduct unbecoming. But he is unchained.”
In an email to Powell’s son, Michael, on July 19 Powell wrote that the current DIA director told him Flynn was fired because he was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.”
“He has been and was right-wing nutty every [sic] since,” Powell wrote.
Powell’s son remarked that it was “disgraceful” to watch Flynn leading chants at the Republican convention for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to be “locked up.”
“Pattern of behavior which is why he was fired,” Powell replied. “Real question is how he got that far in the Army."
Flynn didn’t quite match Powell insult-for-insult, but he did hit the former secretary of state for his role in the lead-up to the Iraq war.
“Colin Powell, he’s an amazing guy, amazing service, but he’s actually, you know, as a footnote in history, he’s going to be always struggling for his credibility because of the statement that he made to the United Nations that brought us into the war in Iraq,” Flynn said.
Flynn wasn't the only member of the military that Powell denigrated in the emails.
Powell said Sen. John McCain, a former U.S. Navy pilot who was a prisoner of war during Vietnam, hadn't talked to him since Powell opted to endorse Obama over McCain during the 2008 presidential election.
"And now he seems to be supporting the guy who insulted him," Powell wrote on July 30, referring to McCain's support for Trump. "And only because he has one last campaign to win. Pititul [sic]."
And Flynn and McCain were far from the only high-profile figures caught up in the controversy after DC Leaks posted the contents of Powell’s hacked messages earlier this week. Both presidential candidates are mentioned repeatedly in the emails, by Powell and by those with whom he corresponds.
Jeffrey Leeds, the founder of a private equity firm and a Democratic mega donor, wrote to Powell about Clinton’s obsession with winning and relationship with President Obama.
“It’s the one prize she wants. She has everything else,” Leeds wrote. “And she HATES the President (‘that man’ as the Clintons call him) kicked her ass in 2008. She can’t believe it or accept it.”
Powell wrote to Leeds that he “would rather not have to vote for” Clinton, though he calls her “a friend I respect.”
“A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still d---ing bimbos at home (according to the NYP),” Powell wrote.
Trump didn’t escape Powell’s wrath, either.
In November, Powell wrote that the GOP primary was “a reality show with Trump playing the role of Jerry Springer.”
Writing to a reporter in April, Powell recalled that, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, every few months he had to review nuclear plans and keep the president up to date.
“The very thought of putting Donald in this syste, [sic] is unbelievable,” wrote Powell, who also referred to the business mogul as a “know nothing” and “national disgrace.”
Exchanging messages with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in June, Powell imagined that “if Donald were to somehow win, by the end of the first week in office he’d be saying, ‘What the hell did I get myself into?”
Trump responded on Twitter.
Flynn on Wednesday cautioned that prominent individuals need to be more careful about what they send electronically.
“At the end of the day, he said some really mean things,” Flynn said. “Now, he thought they were private but, Megyn, nothing is private when you are a target of, whether it’s an anonymous group or whether it’s a nation-state.”