House Benghazi Committee Press Conference on Secretary Clinton Email Revelations

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House Benghazi Committee Press Conference on Secretary Clinton Email Revelations

House Benghazi Committee Press Conference on Secretary Clinton Email Revelations


United States House of Representatives

March 4, 2015

Chairman Trey Gowdy, United States House Select Committee on Benghazi, opening statement: Thank you very much for coming. I realize there are competing news stories today, so thank you for being here.

From the beginning, I said the Benghazi Committee's investigation would go wherever the facts lead. And one of those facts publicly revealed today, was the use of personal emails by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to conduct official State Department business.

It has been and will continue to be our practice not to discuss the details of our investigation while it is ongoing, but it is important to clarify issues relating to the Committee, in today's public reporting.

The Committee became aware of use of former Secretary Clinton's use of personal email accounts for official state business, late last summer. The Committee made this discovery in the documents turned over to the Benghazi Committee -- and these documents had never before been produced, to any other Congressional committee examining Benghazi.

More recently we discovered former Secretary Clinton relied exclusively on private email accounts to send and receive emails. It was not as if she had both an official and a private email account, she did not use personal email in addition to government email, she used personal email in lieu of government email. In other words she used only private email accounts, and, she had more than one private email account. Which is the point that I referenced but did not make explicitly during our last compliance hearing held with the State Department.

Throughout all of our discussions with the State Department about productions, compliance, and timing, the State Department neglected to mention this fact, until specifically asked about it recently. The fact is the State Department cannot certify they have produced all of former Secretary Clinton's emails because they do not have all of former Secretary Clinton's emails, nor do they control access to them.

As the leader of the State Department, the former Secretary was responsible for setting the standards for preserving agency records and knowing this, does raise the question, if the Secretary was doing what she was supposed to do under the law, why would the State Department have to ask her for her emails back?

The State Department is relying on Secretary Clinton herself and her attorneys and advisers, to tell us and to tell you what emails they think are to be preserved.

Congress has raised bipartisan concerns in the past about the use of personal emails to potentially convey official record-keeping requirements, for many years.

And it is frankly nothing short of incredible that any official in the current Administration would engage in a practice such as that.

We have maintained all along that we would invite Secretary Clinton to a hearing before the Committee, once we had all documents needed to have a productive conversation. And now you know why we said 'all'.

The State Department does not have all of Secretary Clinton's emails on its servers, only she has a complete record, and the Committee is going to have to go to her and her attorneys and her email providers, to insure we have access to everything the American people are entitled to know.

There are many issues related to these issues the Committee will continue examining, and I am not an IT expert so I will not be exploring them with you, today.

However, the Committee will be taking a number of detailed actions to follow-up, and these are including but not limited to: the sending of preservation letters today, to insure that these materials will be protected under the law as well as further document requests, and follow-up with relevant officials on records management issues.

Now you do not need a law degree to have an understanding of how troubling this is.

There are chain of custody issues, there are preservation of materials and documents issues, there are spoliation of evidence issues, there are best evidence issues, in addition to asking about archives and what safeguards may have been in place to protect this information.

And one should also be concerned about the national security implications of former Secretary Clinton using exclusively personal email accounts for the conducting of official U.S. foreign policy.

So despite some attacks from those who claim that all questions regarding Benghazi have been asked and answered, the revelations Secretary Clinton uses personal email accounts lays that claim bare. It also lays bare the claim that any other Committee has issued the definitive report on Benghazi.

The State Department never came forward with this information, which clearly should have been revealed to other Committees reviewing Benghazi, making any claim of a definitive report impossible.

The fact that the Benghazi Committee was able to uncover this previously-unknown and before today unreported information, speaks to the need for the Benghazi Committee.

The fact that the Committee does not rush to trumpet every single discovery we make during the pendency of our investigation, in my judgment speaks to the commitment that the people behind me and Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Jordan have to conducting a fair and impartial investigation into what happened before, during, and after Benghazi.

Our interest here is not in producing a story. Our interest here is in gaining access to all of the documents, all of the emails, all of the witnesses, and producing a final definitive accounting, and one that is frankly worthy of the sacrifice of our four fellow Americans, and worthy of the respect of our fellow citizens.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).