Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) told host Scott Todd on March 15 that he does not have any conclusive evidence yet that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was lying with regard to her handling of the crisis in which an American ambassador was killed during a 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans, were killed in the incident.
Gowdy is leading a congressional investigation into the incident that has bubbled along in various forms ever since then. Clinton is also embroiled in controversy regarding her handling of emails she received as Secretary of State which she contends are private and not related to official business. At a March 10 press conference at the United Nations, Clinton said that as a matter of her personal “convenience” she used one email account for both official and personal emails during her stint as President Obama’s first Secretary of State.
Gowdy told Todd that he would "never accuse someone of lying unless I had overwhelming proof to that effect. I just know this: we don't to grade our own papers in life. And she had a very unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records. It's not just my interest in them. I have just a very small sub-set of her documents, which would be Libya. It's the public record in general that she bears the burden of proving that all public records are in the public domain and that any discrepancies between personal and public be resolved that she reconcile and resolve those discrepancies in a fair way."
(Hillary Clinton onboard C-17 while using a Blackberry)
The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is also investigating Clinton’s email flap, has asked her to turn over her email server to an independent arbiter. Congressman Gowdy said on March 10 that he expects to call upon her to testify. "Regrettably we are left with more questions than answers," said Gowdy. "The Select Committee is left with no choice but to call her to appear at least twice," Gowdy added in a statement.
Making the rounds of Sunday talk shows on March 15, Gowdy said on Fox News that there are “huge gaps” in the email records submitted by Clinton to the select committee he chairs. Gowdy told host Chris Wallace, “We haven’t seen obviously any evidence of a crime, and if we do get some level of assurance that we have all of the e-mails — and we don’t have any level of assurance because of the arrangement she had with herself — I’ll let your viewers decide whether or not there were any mistakes made,” adding, “But I have no guarantee that we have everything that we’re entitled to be able to do our jobs.”
“There are huge gaps. Chris, if you think back to that iconic photograph of her on the C-17 with her blackberry in her hand, she’s on her way to Libya, and there are no e-mails for weeks and weeks on either side of that trip, including the trip itself,” said Gowdy. “Now, it may be that there’s a plausible explanation for that, but we’re going to have to ask her before we will know that.”
On Meet the Press, Gowdy answered questions about the ongoing investigation:
Todd: You've said you want to have her testify twice now, once off camera - not in a public way to try and discuss exactly her electronic communications and things like that. And then in a second time in a very public way when it comes to all things Benghazi and Libya itself. Is she the main focus of your investigation here - is that way you want her twice?
Gowdy: Oh, heaven's no. I think it was a WSJ reporter that went and looked at out three previous hearings and I mentioned her name a whopping zero times. She is a very important part of understanding what happened in Libya and Benghazi, but Chuck, we're scheduled to interview fifty witnesses between now and the conclusion, so she would be 1/50th of that. ...She's not even a central focus, she's certainly not THE focus.
Some Democrats contend that Gowdy’s investigation of Clinton is intended to wreak political damage on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. Congressman Adam Schiff told Wallace that Gowdy is holding off on calling Clinton to testify so as to cast doubt on her credibility well into the 2016 presidential election.
Senator David Vitter (R-LA) wants Secretary of State John Kerry to surrender Clinton’s private emails concerning Boko Haram, the violent Muslim sect that has terrorized Nigeria and was only recognized as a terror group by the Obama administration in 2014 after years of persecuting Christians, bombing churches and mosques, in an effort to turn the oil-rich country into an Islamic state. "Like many Americans, I am incredibly concerned about the recent revelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has kept official federal records hidden from the public, both through an external email domain and in deciding to delete thousands of these records," Vitter said in a letter to Secretary Kerry this week.
In yet another development, the Obama administration admitted on March 18 that Clinton neglected to sign an official State Department form stating that she had surrendered all over all official documents upon leaving her job. The “separation” form in question has been a matter of contention since it could determine whether or not Clinton broke federal law. State Department officials, including Foreign Service Officers, are required to sign the form upon leaving the department, thus certifying that the signatory has turned over all "classified or administratively controlled" materials and "unclassified documents and papers" relating to official government business.