Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton permanently deleted all the emails on the private server she used to do official business as secretary of state, the Republican lawmaker who subpoenaed the emails said late Friday.
Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairman of the House committee investigating the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, said Clinton’s lawyer informed him of the news.
“Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server,” Gowdy said in a statement.
Gowdy had also asked that Clinton turn over her server to the State Department inspector general for an independent review.
Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, said no.
In his letter to Gowdy, Kendall said the former secretary of state “chose not to keep her non-record personal emails.”
“Thus, there are no … e-mails from Secretary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the server for any review, even if such review were appropriate or legally authorized,” he wrote.
But she “has maintained and preserved copies” of work-related, or potentially work-related emails she turned over to the State Department late last year. Kendall did not specify whether the emails were kept in paper or digital form.
Clinton has faced weeks of questioning, and Republican scrutiny, over her exclusive use of private e-mail, and a server at her home, during her tenure as secretary of state from early 2009 to early 2013.
Gowdy and the committee were notified in a letter Friday, “Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all e-mails from her server ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” said Gowdy, of South Carolina.
Gowdy said his committee will work with House leaders as the panel considers next steps, which could include legal action against Clinton.
A Clinton spokesman, Nick Merrill, said in a statement that the State Department has been responsive to the committee and that Clinton’s office has made clear that she wants her e-mails made public.
“She’s ready and willing to come and appear herself for a hearing open to the American public,” Merrill said.
Clinton’s office said on March 10 that she gave 30,490 work-related e-mails to the State Department, which is reviewing them for public release. Another 31,830 e-mails that Clinton has said involved personal matters, such as her daughter’s wedding planning or yoga routines, were deleted.
Clinton was secretary of state during the attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Gowdy said lawmakers need to speak with Clinton about how she handled e-mail and her decisions on deleting some of it. Gowdy and other Republicans have said all relevant records are needed to reach conclusions about whether investigators looking into the attack on the U.S. consulate have what they need.
The top Democrat on the committee, Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said the panel has already obtained Clinton’s e-mail on Benghazi.
“It is time for the committee to stop this political charade and instead make these documents public and schedule Secretary Clinton’s public testimony now,” Cummings said in a statement.
Clinton has been under intense scrutiny from Republicans who suggest the State Department failed to protect diplomatic personnel. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats say the matter has been thoroughly investigated by previous and costly congressional inquiries. Those efforts have come up with nothing, the Democrats say, suggesting the Republican efforts are politically motivated.