Clinton Won't Hand Over Server, Says Emails Are Gone

Benghazi panel Chairman Gowdy complains she "unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean."

Hillary Clinton's attorney told House Republicans Friday that she would not comply with their request to turn over her email server to a third party and that there are no emails from her private account remaining on the server from her time as secretary of State anyway.

Attorney David Kendall's letter to Trey Gowdy, the House Republican leading the probe into the Benghazi attacks and now Clinton's email practices, drew a sharply critical response from the lawmaker.

"We learned today, from her attorney, Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server," Gowdy said in a statement Friday evening.

"While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the secretary to return her public record to the department," Gowdy added.

He pledged to "work with the leadership of the House of Representatives as the committee considers next steps."

Friday was the deadline for Clinton to respond to a subpoena from the GOP-led committee for Benghazi-related documents, but Kendall said there's nothing currently to provide beyond the 300 documents previously turned over by the State Department.

Kendall said that when it comes to more emails, it's the State Department that's "uniquely positioned" to make documents available in response to the request, noting the department is reviewing more than 30,000 work-related emails Clinton turned over to the agency.

"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 has requested that Clinton's private server be turned over to an independent third party for review, either the State Department's inspector general or another arbiter.

But Kendall, whose letter argues that Clinton is "eager" for emails she provided to State to be made public once State completes its review, says Gowdy has not provided "legal authority or precedent" for the request to turn over the server.

His letter also notes that he has confirmed with Clinton's IT team that no emails from her private account during her four-year tenure as secretary of State are on the server or on "any backup systems associated with the server."

"Thus, there are no emails 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.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Select Committee on Benghazi, said Kendall's response simply "confirms what we all knew."

"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," he said.

Democrats have accused Republicans of a mounting an effort to damage Clinton, who is the favorite for the Democratic White House nomination if she enters the race as expected. "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," he said.

Nick Merrill, a spokesman for Clinton, said her representatives have been in contact with the committee and the State Department "to make clear that she would like her emails made public as soon as possible and that she's ready and willing to come and appear herself for a hearing open to the American public."

This story has been updated.