Did He or Didn’t He (Cheat): Signs from Colin Powell

Suggestive emails have come to light between married Colin Powell, 4-star general, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, and Corina Cretu, a Romanian woman who had occasion to meet Powell in her work as a Romanian government official.

Were they having an affair?

The Affair Playbook and The Script can help answer this question.

They met in connection with their work, a common place for an illicit relationship to start.  But, then again, also a common place for a business-only relationship to get going.

However, the emails and photos in the emails are definitely way beyond work related exchanges.  Powell, himself, has acknowledged that the emails were “very personal”.  So the relationship was too close and involved exchanges of intimate feelings.  Signs of an affair ahead.

Powell has denied that there was any affair, in effect saying, Yes, I knew this woman and, yes, we exchanged very personal thoughts but ‘I did not have sex with that woman Ms. Cretu’.

Denial can mean he didn’t have sex, or it can mean he did have sex, or it can mean they had everything but.  A man will deny allegations of an affair regardless of the facts.

Powell appears to have criticized his wife to Corina.  Corina’s English is not crystal clear but she appears to be saying that no wife or daughters will care very much.  But she cares.  A man criticizing his wife is a key prequel to an affair.

According to one of Corina’s emails, Powell asked her not to communicate with him during Christmas and New Year’s one year.  It is very common when a man is having an affair that he makes sure to save major holidays, Saturday evenings, and Valentine’s Day for his wife and family.  If he were away or unavailable during these times it might arouse suspicion in his wife.  Doing the opposite “proves” that he is a family man and cares about his wife.  Also during these holidays it is more likely that his wife and family will be at home and answering whatever phone rings or looking at any email or text that arrives.  Too much chance of an email from his woman friend being seen.

Powell continued receiving and sending emails to Corina through 2011.  Powell asked Corina to delete all suggestive emails as soon as he found out that they might become public.  If he knew it was wise to delete them, this proves Powell had a sense that the emails were way too personal and were something he didn’t want his wife or anyone else to find out about.

Powell continued to send and receive suggestive emails over a number of years.  Almost from the beginning he must have realized this was inappropriate and risky.  But, in another sign of an affair or almost-affair, he continued to do it.  He was intoxicated with the relationship.  He threw caution to the wind.  Sex overcame his better judgment.

Corina said she felt like a teenager in terms of her love for Colin.  Feeling like a teenager in love is a sign that the relationship is built on sex, the key part of an affair.  Although it doesn’t necessarily mean that they had sex.

Definitely Corina thought about the possibility and felt close enough to Colin to bring it up to him.  She wrote, “Nobody is saying go to bed, I just want to see you nothing more.”

Now that the emails are public, Powell is marshaling all the evidence he can to “prove” the relationship with Corina was all about “business issues”; helping “her with her career”; receiving photos of her and her relatives whom she loves; yes, “some bathing suit photos” in the mix but what’s the big deal, nothing improper; anyway “she is now married”.

The parts of The Affair Playbook that are not present in these emails, or in other available evidence, lead to a conclusion about whether it was or wasn’t an affair. To wit — No one has come forward saying they saw Powell and Ms. Cortu coming out of a hotel together. No one has come forward saying they saw them stepping out of a car in a dark parking lot.  No one reported Corina going into a Pentagon office with stockings on and coming out with tousled hair and no stockings.

The conclusion:  He had an “everything but” affair.  And he should take a course with General Petraeus to learn that nothing is ever completely secret.

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