Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said Tuesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct official business has helped her skirt the the investigation.
“We’ve been asking [the State Department] for months and months and months for certain emails and we just now find out that those emails were never going to be produced because they don’t have custody of them,” Mr. Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, told reporters at the Capitol.
He said the committee has received some email from Mrs. Clinton that have aided the probe. But investigators have no way of knowing whether they have all the records that they have requested, other than assurances from Mrs. Clinton and her attorneys, Mr. Gowdy said.
Mrs. Clinton has been a central figure in the committee’s investigation of the events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
In a possible violation of federal law, Mrs. Clinton exclusively used a personal email address to conduct State Department business during her tenure as chief U.S. diplomat, the New York Times reported.
According to the report, Mrs. Clinton never used a government email address as secretary of state and no specific actions were taken to preserve her emails as required under the Federal Records Act.
Mr. Gowdy denied that his committee was the source of the newspaper story, though he acknowledged that the committee became aware of the situation early in the investigation.
Mrs. Clinton’s unusual conduct has helped shield her correspondence from the committee’s investigation, he said.
“Right now we are in a position of having to go to her or her attorneys to ask for work that was done on behalf of the American people. That was not contemplated by any statutory or regulatory scheme,” he said.
He called the situation “troubling.”
“The records custodian should be at the State Department. The records custodian should not be in her private law firm. It should be a State Department employee who transcends administrations, that can swear or aver the you have everything consistent with this request,” Mr. Gowdy said.