There are no longer any copies of tens of thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state.
In a statement released on Friday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), the chairman of the House of Representatives committee dedicated to investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, claimed Clinton wiped the server that housed her emails “clean.”
“While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department,” Gowdy said.
The committee had issued a broad subpoena to Clinton asking for her communications related to the attack. In his statement, Gowdy noted the committee did not receive additional emails from Clinton even after her team asked for a two week extension on his subpoena.
The State Department has already turned over approximately 300 of Clinton’s emails that were related to the attacks to the committee.
Earlier this month, the New York Times revealed Clinton exclusively used a private address and alleged this may have been a violation of federal recordkeeping regulations as well as a security risk. Clinton and her team have maintained she turned over all relevant correspondence when she was requested to do so by the State Department, which was engaged in an effort to improve its records. They have also claimed she copied government addresses on all official correspondence, which would have ensured it was kept on State Department servers.
Clinton has said she turned over approximately 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department. She has also admitted to deleting about 30,000 emails that she described as personal. Her team has said her lawyers reviewed the emails before they were deleted.
The ongoing controversy over her email use has cast a shadow over Clinton’s likely 2016 presidential campaign. On March 10 she held a press conference to address the issue where she defended her communications practices. At that event, she also revealed she deleted all the emails on the server after handing over what she described as all relevant official communications to the State Department.
In a statement responding to Gowdy, Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill stressed that Clinton has said she would like the State Department to make as many of her work-related emails public after the department conducts its own review.
“As we have said, Secretary Clinton has already turned all of her work emails over to the State Department in keeping with the letter and the spirit of what was required, and in full response to the Department’s request of former Secretaries. The State Department has been responsive to the committee, and will continue to be,” Merrill said. “Representatives of Secretary Clinton’s office have been in touch with the committee and the State Department to make clear that she would like her emails made public as soon as possible and that she’s ready and willing to come and appear herself for a hearing open to the American public.”
Gowdy has long sought Clinton’s correspondence from her time leading the State Department. He has said he will call her to testify before the committee after reviewing her emails. Republicans have consistently criticised the government’s handling of the attacks.
In a letter given to the committee, David Kendall, an attorney for Clinton reiterated her claim all of her work-related emails were turned over to the State Department. Because of this, he said the committee should not be seeking Clinton’s correspondence directly from her.
“The Department of State is therefore in possession of all Secretary Clinton’s work-related emails from the (personal email) account,” Kendall wrote.
Kendall also said he verified Clinton had deleted all of the emails that once resided on her server and, as a result, could not provide any communications other than those she already turned over to the State Department.
“To avoid prolonging a discussion that would be academic, I have confirmed with the secretary’s IT support that no emails…..for the time period January 21, 2009 through February 1, 2013 reside on the server or on any back-up systems associated with the server,” Kendall wrote.
Gowdy and other Republicans have suggested an independent arbiter should conduct a review of Clinton’s emails. In addition to claiming there is “no basis to support the proposed third-party review of the server,” Kendall argued the fact its contents were deleted made the idea of a review a moot point.
In his statement, Gowdy criticised the fact Clinton’s deletion of the server left her team completely in control of which emails were turned over to the State Department.
“Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server, ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” he said.
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