(CNN) — Colin Powell spoke candidly about his health problems with journalist Bob Woodward in what is believed to have been his last interview before he died.
“Don’t say no and don’t feel sorry for me, for God’s sake. I’m (almost) 85 years old,” Powell said after telling Woodward about his battle with multiple myeloma for nearly two years. “I have not lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I am in good shape.”
Powell, the first black secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Monday of complications linked to covid-19 at age 84. Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, suppresses the body’s immune response. He also had Parkinson’s.
“I’ve had a lot of tests and I arrive on my own. I arrive in my Corvette, get out of the Corvette and go into the hospital. I also go to a clinic to have blood tests done,” Powell said. “I don’t advertise it, I don’t make an advertisement about it, but most of my friends know about it,” he added.
CNN obtained the audio of Woodward’s July 12 telephone interview with Powell for Woodward’s latest book on former President Donald Trump, “Peril.”
In the interview, Powell and Woodward discussed multiple topics, from the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol and former President Donald Trump, to their views on the war and who they think is the best person they know.
Discussing the January 6 uprising, Powell said what happened was “horrible.”
“He was going to overthrow the government,” Powell said of Trump.
Powell’s pioneering career spanned numerous presidential administrations. He was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the George HW Bush administration and the US-led victory in the first Gulf War. As secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, he played a key role in presenting flawed intelligence to the United Nations to advocate for the 2003 Iraq war, something he would later describe as a “blemish” on his record.
In the July interview, Woodward asked about Powell’s views on the war and his nickname “reluctant warrior.”
“Whenever they ask me that, I say it’s true. I’m a reluctant warrior. I don’t like wars. I don’t want to be a warrior,” Powell said. “But remember the other thing that is known about me very well. And that is that we are going to a war, and I will do everything I can to beat someone up and win.”
“That’s known as the Powell doctrine, by the way,” he added.
Powell told Woodward that he had no problem with the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, although the interview was conducted before the Taliban seized power in August and the US struggle to complete the evacuations of Americans and Afghans. before the US military left the country.
“In Afghanistan you are never going to win. The Afghans are going to win,” Powell said. “They have hundreds of them (soldiers) willing to fight and die for this country of theirs. And they are doing it now, and they are going to win. That is why I have no problem getting out of there.”
The best person Colin Powell knew
At one point in his conversation with Woodward, Powell stopped the interview to tell his wife, Alma Powell, that he was on the phone.
“I’m on the phone, Alma!” Powell yelled, before quickly whispering to Woodward, “He never liked me talking to you, but here we are.”
In the interview, Woodward asked Powell who was the best person he had ever met, in terms of having a moral compass and a sense of truth.
“It’s Alma Powell,” Powell responded quickly. “He was with me the whole time. We’ve been married for 58 years. And he’s put up with a lot. He took care of the kids when I was, you know, running around. And he was always there for me, and he was like, ‘It’s not a good idea.’ He was usually right. “
Woodward wrote Monday in The Washington Post about his long relationship with Powell, which he says spanned about 50 interviews and dates back to 1989 and the US invasion of Panama.
Powell made a brief appearance in “Peril,” Woodward’s book on Trump co-authored with the journalist from The Washington Post Robert Costa, chronicling the chaotic final year of Trump’s presidency as he desperately searched for ways to hold onto power after the November elections.
In the book, Woodward and Costa write that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley approached Powell for advice amid strong criticism for Milley’s appearance alongside Trump as he was addressing a church outside the city. White House during the June 2020 protests over the death of George Floyd.
– “Should I quit?” Milley asked Powell.
– “****** no,” Powell replied, according to the book. “I told you never to take the job. You should never have taken the job. Trump is a ****** maniac.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism