Trump: 'Classic RINO' Powell Made 'Plenty of Mistakes'

Some commentators agree
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2021 7:31 PM CDT
Trump: 'Classic RINO' Powell Made 'Plenty of Mistakes'
In this Feb. 15, 2001 photo, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell looks on as then-President George W. Bush addresses State Department employees.   (AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert)

Colin Powell died of complications from COVID Monday—and Donald Trump waited until the next day to criticize the former secretary of state as a "classic RINO." "Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media," Trump said in a statement, per the Hill. "Hope that happens to me someday." The former president, described by Powell as a "national disgrace" in 2016, added: "He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!" Chris Cillizza at CNN describes the remarks as "utterly classless," though Trump wasn't the only one to criticize Powell after the 84-year-old's death. More:

  • He could have stopped "lunatic invasion." Peter Maass at the Intercept looks at what he calls "the most consequential act" of Powell's life: a Feb. 5, 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council that presented a case for invading Iraq that was based on "false, manipulated, and fabricated" intelligence. While others in the Bush administration had a " higher quotient of intentional malignance," Powell " was perhaps the only public figure who could have stopped the White House from going ahead with its lunatic invasion, and he failed to do so," Maass writes.
  • "A nice man, but..." Maass points to a tweet from Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill. "At the personal level, Colin Powell was a nice man. He was also a trailblazer," Hill writes. "But he was also a military leader and key strategist of an empire that killed countless people and undermined the sovereignty of multiple nations. In our memorials, we must be honest about all of this."

  • A mixed legacy among African Americans. The AP reports that Powell—the first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs and secretary of state—has been criticized by some in the Black community for not speaking out more forcefully against institutional racism. "I think that’s why a lot of Black folks never saw him as a leader. There was never a sense that Colin Powell was one of us," says activist Kevin Powell—no relation—who criticizes Powell for being "largely invisible in a lot of things that happened—Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, George Floyd." But Sam Riddle, another political activist, argues that the "bullhorns we can use can be simply quiet competency, integrity, and perseverance."
  • Vietnam controversies. Months before he began his second tour of Vietnam, one of the units in Powell's battalion massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians. Powell, then a 31-year-old Army major, was accused of whitewashing news of the My Lai massacre after he was assigned to investigate a letter from a soldier detailing war crimes, the Wall Street Journal reports. In his first memoir, he wrote of the Vietnam years: "A corrosive careerism had infected the Army; and I was part of it."
(More Colin Powell stories.)

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