The chairman of 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-S.C., sent a letter to Clinton attorney David Kendall Thursday requesting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turn over the server she used for official State Department business to the State Department 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.”
Democrats protested the latest initiative.
"Republican demands for Secretary Clinton’s server seem designed to spark a fight with a potential presidential candidate rather than following the standard practice in congressional investigations,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee’s top Democrat.
Clinton has come under fire for using the personal server. She and her staff have turned over about 55,000 pages to the State Department for review, a process that can take months. Clinton has said she then wants the work-related material to become public, but that thousands of personal messages have been deleted.
Gowdy 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’d back turning over the server to a retired federal judge, archiivist or other inspector general to make public record determinations.
In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was also raising questions about the emails.
â€œA number of conflict of interest concerns arise when a government employee is simultaneously being paid by a private company, especially when that company, Teneo, â€˜brings together the disciplines of government and public affairs,â€™ â€ Grassley wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry. â€œMoreover, these concerns are heightened when high level employees, such as Ms. Abedin, may have used non-government email accounts to engage in both government and private business. Furthermore, Ms. Abedin and other State Department employees appear to have been improperly categorized as SGEs.â€
Grassley made a new request of the agency inspector general. He also expressed concern that the private email use could impede State Department fulfillment of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. FOIA is in the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.
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.”