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Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

What he's saying: "Years ago, when he was asked to reflect on his own life, General Colin Powell described himself as 'first and foremost a problem-solver,'" Obama said. "It was true, of course. But he was far more than that."

  • Powell helped shape American policy for decades, he added. "And although he’d be the first to acknowledge that he didn’t get every call right, his actions reflected what he believed was best for America and the people he served."
  • "He never denied the role that race played in his own life and in our society more broadly," Obama noted. "But he also refused to accept that race would limit his dreams, and through his steady and principled leadership, helped pave the way for so many who would follow."

In 2008, Powell endorsed Obama for president.

  • "At a time when conspiracy theories were swirling, with some questioning my faith, General Powell took the opportunity to get to the heart of the matter in a way only he could," Obama said.
  • "'The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian,' General Powell said. 'But the really right answer is, "What if he is?" Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America,'" Obama recounted.
  • "That’s who Colin Powell was," he added. "Michelle and I will always look to General Powell as an example of what America — and Americans — can and should be if we wish to remain the last, best hope of earth."

The big picture: Powell was fully vaccinated, his family said. He had undergone treatment for a type of blood cancer that can weaken the immune system.

  • "We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," his family said.
  • Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian Powell, and three children.

Go deeper

GOP on Fed picks: Open to Brainard, wary of Raskin

President Biden listens as Lael Brainard speaks after he nominated her to be Fed vice chair in November. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Some Senate Republicans are open to voting for Lael Brainard, President Biden’s nominee to serve as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, but sound more concerned about Sarah Bloom Raskin.

Why it matters: GOP support for Brainard, a Fed governor whose confirmation hearing will be Thursday, would all but assure her confirmation. But questions about Raskin, Biden’s likely choice to serve as the Fed's top bank regulator, raise doubts for her.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. chargés d'affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

The latest: The United Kingdom's Foreign Office announced Monday it was also withdrawing some embassy staff and dependants from Ukraine's capital "in response to the growing threat from Russia," but added the British Embassy would remain open.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.K. PM orders inquiry into Muslim lawmaker's discrimination claim

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, England, last week. Photo: Ian Vogler/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office announced Monday that he's ordered an inquiry into allegations from a Conservative Member of Parliament that she was fired from a ministerial job due to her Muslim faith.

Driving the news: Nusrat Ghani told the Sunday Times she was informed by a government whip that she was fired from her position as a junior transport minister in February 2020 after her "Muslimness was raised as an issue" and that her faith made colleagues feel "uncomfortable."