The South Carolinian who chairs the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks has asked former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to turn over her personal email server to a “neutral, detached and independent” third party for “immediate inspection and review.”
Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, sent a letter to Clinton attorney David Kendall Thursday requesting Clinton turn over the server she used for official State Department business to the State Department’s inspector general or a neutral third party for independent analysis of what records should be in the public domain.
“Though Secretary Clinton alone is responsible for causing this issue, she alone does not get to determine its outcome,” Gowdy in a statement.
“That is why in the interest of transparency for the American people, I am formally requesting she turn the server over to the State Department’s inspector general or a mutually agreeable third party.”
Clinton, the odds-on favorite to be the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, has come under fire for using the personal server. She and her staff have turned over about 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department for review, a process that can take months. Clinton has said she wants the work-related material to become public, but that thousands of personal messages have been deleted.
Gowdy, a former Upstate prosecutor, wants a more independent look at the material.
“An independent analysis of the private server Secretary Clinton used for the official conduct of U.S. government business is the best way to remove politics and personal consideration from the equation,” he said.
“Having a neutral, third-party arbiter such as the State Department IG do a forensic analysis and document review is an eminently fair and reasonable means to determine what should be made public. As I have said many times, we have no interest in Secretary Clinton’s personal emails, but the American people have a clear right to the public records from her time as secretary of state.”
In the past, Gowdy has suggested he would back turning over the server to a retired federal judge, archivist or other inspector general to make determinations as to which emails are public records.
In the Senate, Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, also is raising questions about the emails, including whether Clinton aides also “used non-government email accounts to engage in both government and private business.”
He also expressed concern the use of private email could impede the State Department’s fulfillment of Freedom of Information Act requests for information.
The committee, he wrote State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, “needs to have a clear understanding of the effects that these email practices at the State Department have had on FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) compliance.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said Gowdy’s letter seemed “designed to spark a fight with a potential presidential candidate rather than follow the standard practice in congressional investigations.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report