Trey Gowdy sent a letter to Hillary Clinton’s personal attorney formally requesting that the former secretary of state appear before the House Select Committee on Benghazi “no later than May 1” to answer questions about her use of private email and a private server.
“This Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records,” Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, wrote to David Kendall.
“The Committee is willing to schedule the interview at a time convenient for Secretary Clinton, but no later than May 1, 2015.”
Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account for official business, as well as a private server, was revealed earlier this month. Gowdy’s committee subpoenaed Clinton’s emails on March 4. It subpoenaed the server on March 19.
But Kendall informed the committee in a letter last Friday that Clinton’s server had been scrubbed of all emails. He also wrote in a letter that even if the server did include Clinton’s records, she was not compelled to turn them over to the committee. Clinton has maintained that she has turned over all emails related to her official business to the State Department. She gave the agency 55,000 pages of those emails back in December, nearly two years after leaving office. Of those, 300 emails were turned over to the Benghazi committee.
“Secretary Clinton’s refusal to allow the Inspector General to ensure the public record is complete is not only disappointing but portends to delay the ability of our Committee to complete its work as expeditiously as possible,” Gowdy wrote Tuesday.
As he did last week, Gowdy asserted that if Clinton does not comply, he may need request help from the House of Representatives “to consider its next steps.”
Gowdy provided a list of questions he hopes to ask Clinton as part of her transcribed interview. Those include questions about:
1. her decision to bypass an official government email account;
2. whether she affirmatively turned over any relevant records during the pendency of the Accountability Review Board investigation or at any time after Congress first began investigating the Benghazi attack until December 2014;
3. her decision to retain those records upon separation from the Department of State;
4. the methodology by which these emails were subsequently searched for evidence of official records; and
5. her decision to delete certain emails.
Gowdy wrote that after that preliminary interview, which is intended to determine that status of the custody and control of Clinton’s Benghazi-related emails, “we will be in a position to schedule her appearance in a public hearing to constructively discuss these topics.”
“We continue to believe Secretary Clinton’s email arrangement with herself is highly unusual, if not unprecedented,” Gowdy wrote.
“The decision to delete these records during the pendency of a congressional investigation only exacerbates our need to better understand what the Secretary did, when she did it, and why she did it.”
Gowdy also reiterated that Clinton’s server and any data, backups, or equipment associated with it “must be preserved wherever they reside and that any further deletion or destruction of data or information must cease.”
He informed Kendall that it is likely “technically possible in many instances to recover electronic information notwithstanding whether it has been “deleted” or overwritten.”