- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2015

Democrats on Friday accused Republicans running the special Benghazi investigation of turning former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s email troubles into a political circus, saying there was no need to issue an official subpoena for them.

In a letter to Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the panel’s Democrats called the subpoena “ill-considered” and said Mrs. Clinton has tried to cooperate with the investigation by turning emails over to the State Department, which has produced some of them to the committee.

Mrs. Clinton used her own private email server during her time as secretary of state and is now facing scrutiny over that move, which analysts said could violate open-records laws if she didn’t scrupulously forward all of those messages to an official account for storage.

Earlier this week, Mr. Gowdy issued subpoenas to Mrs. Clinton demanding her communications regarding Libya and issued letters informing Internet companies they now have an obligation to preserve emails because they are under subpoena.

Democrats said Mrs. Clinton has “fully cooperated with every aspect of the committee’s investigation” before, and said they expected her cooperation to continue, so there was no need to issue the subpoena. And the Democrats, led by ranking committee member Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, said Mr. Gowdy has known Mrs. Clinton used a private email system for months, but only fired off the subpoena after The New York Times this week reported the fact.

But Jamal Ware, a spokesman for Mr. Gowdy, said the committee didn’t learn until last week that Mrs. Clinton maintained her own private email server and exclusively used her own personal email account to conduct government business.

“Instead of questioning the State Department or former Secretary Clinton, once again, the Democrats send a letter attacking the committee and complaining about process,” Mr. Ware said. “The Committee’s majority is focused on substance. In the interest of full transparency for the American people and determining all facts surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attack, the committee is moving forward with the subpoena.”

Democrats also demanded Mr. Gowdy make public the 300 or so emails the State Department has already turned over, saying those will help clear her name.

“Issuing a subpoena to Secretary Clinton was completely unnecessary and unfounded given the level of cooperation she and her counsel have provided the committee over the past year,” they said.

They said the way Mr. Gowdy went about issuing the subpoena has created “a perception that this committee is now targeting Secretary Clinton for political reasons rather than to clarify any remaining facts relating to the attacks in Benghazi.”

Mr. Gowdy has said he won’t release the emails already in the committee’s possession because it would create the impression they have gotten them all and are finished with them, when because of her use of a private email server they can no longer be certain what portion of her communications they have received.

Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, died in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, at the tail end of Mrs. Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Republicans have accused the administration of being slow to recognize the attack as terrorism, and say more than 2½ years later, they still have unanswered questions.

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