WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton wiped her email server “clean,” permanently deleting all emails from it, the Republican chairman of a House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks said Friday.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said the former secretary of state has failed to produce a single new document in recent weeks and has refused to relinquish her server to a third party for an independent review, as Gowdy has requested.
Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, said Gowdy was looking in the wrong place.
In a six-page letter released late Friday, Kendall said Clinton had turned over to the State Department all work-related emails sent or received during her tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
“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 it would be pointless for Clinton to turn over her server, even if legally authorized, since “no emails … reside on the server or on any backup systems associated with the server.”
Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, faced a Friday deadline to respond to a subpoena for emails and documents related to Libya, including the 2012 attacks in a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
The Benghazi committee demanded further documents and access to the server after it was revealed that Clinton used a private email account and server during her tenure at State.
Gowdy said he will work with House leaders to consider options. Speaker John Boehner has not ruled out a vote in the full House to force Clinton to turn over the server if she declines to make it available by an April 3 deadline set by Gowdy.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Benghazi panel, said Kendall’s letter confirmed “what we all knew: that Secretary Clinton already produced her official records to the State Department, that she did not keep her personal emails and that the Select Committee has already obtained her emails relating to the attacks in Benghazi.”
Cummings said it is time for Gowdy and other Republicans to stop what he called a “political charade” and instead make Clinton’s emails public. Gowdy also should schedule Clinton’s public testimony before the Benghazi panel as soon as possible, Cummings said.
Kendall said in his letter that Clinton’s personal attorneys reviewed every email sent and received from her private email address – 62,320 emails in total – and identified all work-related emails. Those totaled 30,490 emails or approximately 55,000 pages. The material was provided to the State Department on Dec. 5, 2014, and it is the agency’s discretion to release those emails after a review.
Kendall said Clinton has asked for the release of all of those emails. He said the State Department is reviewing the material to decide whether any sensitive information needs to be protected.
“Secretary Clinton is not in a position to produce any of those emails to the committee in response to the subpoena without approval from the State Department, which could come only following a review process,” Kendall wrote.
Gowdy said he was disappointed at Clinton’s lack of cooperation.
“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.
In a statement released later Friday, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said she “would like her emails made public as soon as possible and … she’s ready and willing to come and appear herself for a hearing open to the American public.”