Colin Powell dies

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 7:32 p.m. ET, October 18, 2021
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10:51 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

CNN medical analyst says Powell represented the country's most vulnerable to Covid-19

From CNN’s Naomi Thomas

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, CNN medical analyst and professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University, said Colin Powell represented the "most vulnerable population" in America.

“General Powell represented our most vulnerable population in this country. He was over the age of 80, he had cancer, and a treatment for his cancer made him vulnerable," Reiner told CNN's Newsroom with Jim Sciutto and Erica Hill.

Powell's family announced his death on Facebook saying he died from complications from Covid-19. He was 84 and had been vaccinated. A source familiar with the matter later told CNN he had multiple myeloma – a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response.

Reiner said Powell's death emphasized the need for all Americans to get vaccinated, to "protect our treasures" like Powell.

"So, when we try and convince young people who feel that they are low risk from the virus itself why they need to be vaccinated, it’s to protect our treasures, our people like general Powell, our grandparents, because while, you know, a 25-year-old may do quite well with the infection, if they spread it to someone like General Powell, they will not. That is the imperative for vaccination in this country," Reiner said.

Remember: For fully vaccinated Americans, the risk of being hospitalized or dying from Covid-19 is low – much lower than the risk for unvaccinated people. But in those rare cases when a fully vaccinated person gets infected, data suggests it is older adults and those with multiple underlying medical conditions who are most at risk of serious illness. 

10:49 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

Former Secretary of State Albright: "My heart is sad for I have lost a friend"

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in a statement Monday that Colin Powell “was a wise and principled man, a loyal friend, and one of the kindest people I have ever met.”

“My heart is sad for I have lost a friend,” she said in the statement, which was posted to her Twitter account. “Colin Powell was an American icon whose career in public service will always be celebrated and remembered, but to me he was simply my friend Colin.”

“Although we grew up in different contexts, we bonded over our family’s immigrant stories, our deep love of America, and our belief in the importance of public service,” she said.

“I am a better person for having known him, and America is a better place because of him,” Albright said. “He never forgot that he was a soldier.”

Read the full statement:

10:53 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

Jimmy Carter calls Powell a "true patriot and public servant"

From left, former President Jimmy Carter, former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell attend a news conference at the White House in September 1994.
From left, former President Jimmy Carter, former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell attend a news conference at the White House in September 1994. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former US President, released a statement praising Colin Powell's service and the work they did together to help resolve international conflicts, including in Haiti.

Carter said Powell's "courage and integrity will be an inspiration for generations to come."

Read the full statement:

"Rosalynn and I join so many around the world in mourning the loss of General Colin Powell. A true patriot and public servant, we were honored to work beside him to strengthen communities in the United States, help resolve conflict in Haiti, and observe elections in Jamaica. His courage and integrity will be an inspiration for generations to come. We will keep his family in our prayers during this difficult time."
10:05 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

Former British prime minister says Powell "inspired loyalty and respect"

From CNN’s Mick Krever

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday called Colin Powell “a towering figure in American military and political leadership” who “inspired loyalty and respect.” 

“His life stands as a testament not only to dedicated public service but also a strong belief in willingness to work across partisan division in the interests of his country,” Blair said in a statement released by his office.

Read his full statement:

“Colin was a towering figure in American military and political leadership over many years, someone of immense capability and integrity, a hugely likeable and warm personality and a great companion, with a lovely and self-deprecating sense of humour. He was wonderful to work with, he inspired loyalty and respect and was one of those leaders who always treated those under them with kindness and concern. His life stands as a testament not only to dedicated public service but also a strong belief in willingness to work across partisan division in the interests of his country. I am so sorry to hear the news of his death. He still had so much to give. My thoughts and prayers are Alma and all his large and loving extended family.”
10:01 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

Powell had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells

From CNN’s Jake Tapper

Gen. Colin Powell had multiple myeloma, according to a source familiar with the matter. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells that suppresses the body’s immune response.

Even if fully vaccinated against Covid-19, immunocompromised people are at greater risk from the coronavirus.

10:37 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

Former Vice President Cheney calls Powell: "A man who loved his country and served her long and well"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

From left, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State Colin Powell share a laugh in Rumsfeld's office in April 2001.
From left, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Secretary of State Colin Powell share a laugh in Rumsfeld's office in April 2001. (David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

Former Vice President Dick Cheney expressed his sadness at the passing of Gen. Colin Powell. 

“I'm deeply saddened to learn that America has lost a leader and statesman. General Powell had a remarkably distinguished career, and I was fortunate to work with him. He was a man who loved his country and served her long and well,” Cheney said in a statement. 

He praised his dedication and called him a “trailblazer and role model.”

Cheney and Powell both served under the Bush administration.

Read the full statement:

"I'm deeply saddened to learn that America has lost a leader and statesman. General Powell had a remarkably distinguished career, and I was fortunate to work with him. He was a man who loved his country and served her long and well. 
"Working with him during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I saw first-hand General Powell’s dedication to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women who serve our country in uniform. Colin was a trailblazer and role model for so many: the son of immigrants who rose to become National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of State.
"Lynne and I extend our prayers and profound condolences to his wife, Alma, and to their children. His legacy and unparalleled record of service will never be forgotten."   

9:48 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

VA honors Colin Powell's service following his death

The US Department of Veterans Affairs tweeted an interview with the late Colin Powell following news of his death.

"He spoke of the service of those who served and his greatest title: Veteran," the VA tweeted.

Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.

Watch the video:

9:50 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

Months before he died, Colin Powell said he was distancing himself from the Republican Party. Here's why.

Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state whose leadership in several Republican administrations helped shape American foreign policy in the last years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, has died from complications from Covid-19, his family said on Facebook. He was 84.

In his last few years, Powell, a retired US general and longtime Republican, was outspoken against conservative support for former President Donald Trump, and told CNN's Fareed Zakaria why he no longer considered himself a member of the Republican Party.

Powell criticized the party for supporting Trump's behavior following the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol.

"They did, and that's why I can no longer call myself a fellow Republican. I'm not a fellow of anything right now. I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat throughout my entire career. And right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties," he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria on "GPS" in January.

Powell previously endorsed Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, becoming one of the honorary co-chairs of President Obama’s inauguration.

Powell said he was concerned about what he characterized as a recent negative turn of Republican candidate Sen. John McCain's campaign, such as the campaign's attempts to tie Obama to former 1960s radical Bill Ayers.

"I think that's inappropriate. I understand what politics is about – I know how you can go after one another, and that's good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for," he told NBC in 2008.

Powell was once seen as a possible presidential candidate himself.

9:26 a.m. ET, October 18, 2021

NAACP president on Powell's death: "He was a good man who inspired many"

From CNN’s Paul P. Murphy 

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has released a statement on the passing of Colin Powell.

“Colin Powell lived a life of honor and integrity,” the statement from NAACP President Derrick Johnson said. “A four-star general, the first Black US Secretary of State, and an NAACP Spingarn Medal recipient."

“He was a good man who inspired many,” Johnson went on to say. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this time.”

Powell was also the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.