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Colin Powell in his final interview accused Trump of attempting to 'overturn the government' by inciting January 6 riot

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/19/2021 tporter@businessinsider.com (Tom Porter)
Colin Powell in the US Capitol at a memorial for former President George H.W. Bush in 2018. Drew Angerer/Getty Images © Drew Angerer/Getty Images Colin Powell in the US Capitol at a memorial for former President George H.W. Bush in 2018. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Colin Powell discussed the Capitol riot in an interview some 3 months before his death.
  • He said of Donald Trump: "It was awful. He was going in there to overturn the government."
  • Powell, a prominent Republican, had been a sharp critic of Trump.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell accused Donald Trump of trying to "overturn the government" in a stinging last interview before his death,

Powell was discussing the riot at the US Capitol in an interview with journalist Bob Woodward conducted in July, some three months before his death on Monday.

Writing in The Washington Post, Woodward said that he'd interviewed Powell over 50 times in the course of his distinguished career, during which he served as the first Black secretary of state.

Powell, who was being treated for a form of cancer and also had Parkinson's, died of complications related to COVID-19 on Monday. He'd been vaccinated, but his illnesses likely weakened his immune system.

At one point, wrote Woodward, their conversation turned to the violence on January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol. Many of them had just watched the former president in a speech nearby make baseless claims that the 2020 election results were fraudulent

Powell said "Trump refuses to acknowledge that he wasn't reelected. He has people who go along with him on that."

He said of Trump: "It was awful. He was going in there to overturn the government."

Powell was a longtime critic of Trump. In the wake of the violence on January 6, he called for him to resign.

"I wish he would do what Nixon did and just step down. Somebody ought to go up to him and it's over. Plane's waiting for you. You're out," Powell said in an interview with TODAY in January.

"That way he would not only step down, he would in addition sort of cut the guts out from underneath this group of people who he has working for him."

"What he is responsible for is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen," said Powell.

In an interview endorsing Joe Biden for the presidency in 2020, Powell said that Trump had "drifted away" from the US Constitution and called his behavior "dangerous for our democracy."

Powell led US military forces during the 1991 Gulf War, and later served as secretary of state under the Republican administration of George W Bush. In later years, he endorsed a series of Democrats as president, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden.

Unlike other former presidents and senior government officials, Trump did not release a tribute to Powell after his death was announced Monday.

In a statement Tuesday, Trump said: "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. Hope that happens to me someday."

"He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!" Trump added.

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