WASHINGTON – A day after the death of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former President Donald Trump disparaged the diplomat and decorated general in a statement released by his office.
Powell, 84, died Monday of COVID-19 complications.
Trump’s statement Tuesday echoed his actions after the deaths of other prominent Americans whom the former president considered political foes, including Sen. John McCain, civil rights icon John Lewis and Rep. John Dingell, who was the longest-serving member of Congress.
Trump criticized Powell’s record on the Iraq War and derided the news media for treating the former secretary of state “so beautifully” after his death.
“Hope that happens to me someday,” Trump said.
“He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!” he said.
Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, sent out a statement lauding Powell as “a true American Patriot who served our Nation with distinction in uniform.”
Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was a Republican who backed Democratic president Joe Biden last year and said he viewed Trump as someone who had “drifted away” from the U.S. Constitution.
“We need people that will speak the truth,” Powell told CNN after the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol, the event that prompted his final break from the Republican Party.
Colin Powell dies at 84:Colin Powell, first Black secretary of state, dies from COVID-19 complications
Trump’s criticisms of the war veteran recalled his caustic comments about McCain after his death in August 2018. For months afterward, Trump criticized the senator, Republican presidential nominee and Vietnam prisoner of war, a frequent Trump critic who cast the decisive vote against a plan to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“By the way, he wrote a book and the book bombed,” Trump said more than five months after McCain’s death.
In the aftermath of McCain’s death, Trump broke with tradition and ordered the raising of U.S. flags from half-staff just two days after the former senator died, prompting an outcry from veterans groups and others. Trump reversed course hours later and lowered the flags.
Last year, Trump declined to pay his respects to Lewis as he lay in state at the U.S. Capitol in 2020; nor did Trump attend the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush in 2018.
At a campaign rally in Michigan in 2019, he mocked Dingell and Dingell’s widow, Rep. Debbie Dingell, before a crowd of constituents in the couple’s home state.
Tributes to Powell from other former presidents
President Joe Biden and four living former U.S. presidents remembered Powell as an American hero who led with honor, integrity and wisdom during his four decades in public life.
Former President George W. Bush called Powell “a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam.” He noted that Powell had earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice.
Obama, the country’s first Black president, said Powell, who made history as the first Black secretary of state, was “an example of what America can and should be if we wish to remain the last, best hope of earth.”
Trump’s comments about Powell drew rebuke across the political spectrum.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection, told the Daily Caller that the ex-president’s statement about Powell was “pathetic garbage.”
Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., called Trump’s statement “among the worst and most despicable things he’s ever said, which is saying something.”
Olivia Troye, a former homeland security official and former aide to Pence, also denounced the former president’s comments.
“He was a man of honor & integrity,” Troye wrote of Powell on Twitter. “Trump’s disgusting & vile statement about Powell is another blatant reminder that he doesn’t care nor have the capacity to understand and respect those who serve our great country.”