Gowdy Requests ‘Transcribed Interview’ With Clinton Over Emails

Gowdy's Benghazi panel will meet next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Gowdy's Benghazi panel will meet next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted March 31, 2015 at 1:19pm

Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy wants answers — and the truth, presumably — from Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private email address and server during her time as secretary of State, and he wants those answers no later than May 1.  

On Tuesday, Gowdy wrote a letter to Clinton’s lawyer requesting that the former secretary of State appear before the Bengahzi Committee for a “transcribed interview.” In the letter, Gowdy notes the panel has already asked Clinton to turn over her personal email server to the State Department inspector general for an independent review. “The Committee was then and remains open to the designation of another neutral, detached, and independent arbiter to review Secretary Clinton’s server to ensure all relevant records have been preserved and produced to the Committee consistent with its subpoena,” Gowdy wrote Tuesday.  

But Clinton, through her attorney David Kendall, rebuffed that request Friday in a six-page letter  that said the former secretary of State had already turned over all her work-related emails to the State Department, and that turning over the server would be pointless anyway:  “no e-mails … reside on the server or on any backup systems associated with the server.”  

Gowdy said Clinton’s refusal was “not only disappointing but portends to delay the ability of our Committee to complete its work as expeditiously as possible.” The South Carolina Republican urged Clinton to reconsider.  

But he made it clear that if Clinton continues to refuse the committee’s request, “the House of Representatives as a whole will need to consider its next steps.”

Toward that end and because of the Secretary’s unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State, 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.  The Committee is willing to schedule the interview at a time convenient for Secretary Clinton, but no later than May 1, 2015.

Gowdy said once there was a “reasonable assurance” that all documents in Clinton’s care related to what happened before, during and after the attacks on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the committee would then be in a position to schedule Clinton’s 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. 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. These questions relate to:

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 finished the letter by noting it is “technically possible” to recover deleted information in many instances. “It is precisely for this reason a neutral and objective party must have access to the server and related equipment to identify information potentially responsive to relevant laws and investigative requests,” he wrote.  

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