Benghazi panel asks for Clinton interview
Wants to know why she hid emails
The Benghazi investigative committee on Tuesday formally requested that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton give a transcribed interview detailing her decision-making in determining which emails she turned over to the government and why she wiped her email server clean.
Chairman Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, made the request as the State Department began to divulge some of Mrs. Clinton’s emails that she hid for years. One of the early messages contradicts her claim that she wanted to use a single electronic device for email.
Mr. Gowdy said Mrs. Clinton’s “unique arrangement with herself” — in which she claimed complete control of government business email — needs to be explained, and nobody other than Mrs. Clinton can do that.
The interview would be behind closed doors but would be part of the committee investigation’s record. A public hearing would be held once the select investigative committee has gathered all of the documents it believes it needs, Mr. Gowdy said in a letter to Mrs. Clinton’s attorney.
“We continue to believe Secretary Clinton’s email arrangement with herself is highly unusual, if not unprecedented,” he said. “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. While she has cited a variety of justifications for this arrangement, many questions and details about the arrangement remain unanswered.”
Mr. Gowdy said the questions include why Mrs. Clinton refused a government-issued account and set up her own account and server; why she kept the emails herself rather than turning them over to the State Department when she left office in early 2013; and how she decided which of the 62,000 emails from her time in office she would delete, and which she would turn over.
The chairman also pointedly made clear that since the emails are under committee investigation, any action to destroy them would be illegal. He said that is why Mrs. Clinton must turn over her server to a neutral third party — a request Mrs. Clinton’s team has rejected, saying she already has complied with the law.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said Mrs. Clinton looks forward to a public hearing, but he didn’t address Mr. Gowdy’s request for a transcribed interview.
“Secretary Clinton already told the committee months ago that she was ready to appear at a public hearing. It is by their choice that hasn’t happened,” Mr. Merrill said. “To be clear, she remains ready to appear at a hearing open to the American public.”
The White House, which has tried to keep the Clinton email situation at arm’s length, waved off questions about the Benghazi committee’s request, saying it is up to Mrs. Clinton, who spokesman Josh Earnest made clear is no longer part of the Obama administration.
“If the committee makes a request and Secretary Clinton, in her capacity as a private citizen, decides that she wants to — once again — go above and beyond in terms of trying to provide them information and access, then that will be a decision for her to make,” Mr. Earnest said.
Mrs. Clinton said she used an email server she set up at her home in New York, and issued herself her own email address, because she wanted to use a single device and account for both personal and private mail. She has said she determined that about 30,000 of her 62,000 emails from her time in office were government-related, and in December — nearly two years after she left office — she turned those over to the State Department amid prodding by the Benghazi committee.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and chairman of the Benghazi investigative committee, said Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “unique arrangement with herself” — in which she claimed complete control of government business email — needs to be explained, and nobody other than Mrs. Clinton can do that.