Leaked Powell Emails Show Clinton Disdains Obama

Leaked Colin Powell emails reveal Clinton’s apparent disdain for Obama

Jake Novak9/14/2016

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama in Beijing, China in 2009.

Getty Images

Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama in Beijing, China in 2009.

When news broke that former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emails were hacked, just about every mainstream media headline read: “Colin Powell calls Donald Trump a ‘national disgrace.'”

I get the punch that headline packs. But it misses the bigger takeaway from those leaked emails: They are far more damaging to Hillary Clinton than to Donald Trump.

The “revelation” that Powell has disdain for Trump can’t be much of a surprise given his past endorsement of PresidentBarack Obama and the fact that so many of his fellow generals and national security peers have publicly pushed back against the Republican nominee for months. Plus, seeing Trump being called a national disgrace or worse in the news media is pretty much an hourly occurrence in America these days and he’s still surging in the polls.

Far more damaging are the emails where Powell discusses Clinton, her email scandal, her health, and her apparent hatred of President Obama. I suspect each of these suddenly very current topics, and not the slam on Trump, are the real reason why the alleged hacking outfit, DCLeaks.com chose to publish the emails now.

With Clinton’s email scandal still very much in the news, it’s disastrous that several of the hacked Powell emails contain his strong explanation of how his use of private email was fully legal and Clinton’s was not. He also expresses serious anger at the Clinton campaign’s attempts to compare her conduct and email server use to his own while he was Secretary of State. The emails show Powell has been concerned about this issue for more than a year and expressed frustrations with how Clinton has approached the scandal and his own relationship to it. And based on his anger over how the Clinton campaign handled the issue, the emails make it seem like Powell would have otherwise publicly endorsed Clinton over Trump by now. That endorsement is something one of Powell’s Democratic email correspondents says would be a “knockout blow.”

Democratic Nominee for President of the United States former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Untangling Clinton’s email timeline   Wednesday, 14 Sep 2016 | 8:43 AM ET | 01:47

Even more timely are the references Powell makes to Clinton’s health in a series of emails with Jeffrey Leeds, who heads the Leeds Equity Partners investment firm and is also a top Democratic party donor. Powell is a member of the Leeds Partners advisory board. In one email to Leeds, Powell writes that Clinton “does not look good” and is “working herself to death.” Leeds also weighs in on the Clinton email scandal and added that “nobody likes her.”

But the truly most damaging thing for the Clinton campaign in this pile of hacked emails are the discussions about President Obama and how Clinton apparently feels about him personally. Make no mistake, Hillary Clinton’s liberal supporters will clearly forgive her for almost anything — from lying to the FBI to lying to everyone else about her health. But any evidence that shows she does not like their untouchable hero in President Obama will be the toughest pill to swallow.

In several emails from Leeds to Powell, Leeds says that Clinton hates and envies the president in the extreme. Leeds adds that she will sometimes refer to President Obama as “that man.” Finally, Leeds tells Powell that the Obama team wouldn’t mind seeing Clinton lose. The timing on this couldn’t be more devastating — it comes just as President Obama is taking to the campaign trail to help Clinton while she recovers from her medical problems.

To be clear, this is secondhand information — it’s according to Leeds (and from his hacked emails, no less), not from Clinton herself. However, if you ask me, it’s still pretty damaging.

Remember when Republican infighting and questions about Trump’s fitness to serve were the big issues in this election? There’s nothing like seeing your opponent have to face the same challenges from her own camp to level the playing field. The downward spiral for Clinton that began with the release of her FBI questioning transcript and continued with her public medical episode and questionable explanations for it, is now spinning at full speed with these hacked Powell emails.

You can focus on those “national disgrace” headlines all you want, but the damaging trend for the Clinton campaign has just been given yet another serious push.

Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

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