WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congress has subpoenaed the emails of “close to a dozen” people who worked in the State Department for Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state, the chairman of the U.S. House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks said on Thursday.
Representative Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Benghazi Select Committee, told Reuters these included aides to Clinton and perhaps “aides to aides.”
“We sent a subpoena to the State Department for emails from a number of individuals within the State Department, other than Secretary Clinton,” Gowdy, a Republican, said in a phone interview.
A New York Times report this month that Clinton had used a personal email account for government business while the chief U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013 has reinvigorated the committee’s investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 even though she has yet to formally declare her candidacy, has come under scrutiny from Republicans who accuse her State Department of failing to protect diplomatic personnel.
Gowdy said the State Department had asked him not to disclose the names of people whose emails were sought. Gowdy has said that without the emails, no congressional committee investigating the Benghazi attack could claim to have issued a definitive report.
Clinton has said that although she should have used a government email account, she violated no rules. Democrats say that Benghazi has been thoroughly investigated by several congressional panels and that Gowdy’s committee’s efforts are politically motivated and aimed at undermining Clinton’s expected presidential candidacy.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters the committee “has spent millions of dollars; produced nothing. I think we’re going to just see an ongoing attempt to investigate Hillary Clinton, whatever the subject, whether it’s her emails or it’s her hair or whatever it happens to be.”
Gowdy spoke to Reuters on the same day Senator Charles Grassley sent letters to Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department’s inspector general asking for information on the emails of Huma Abedin, who was a top aide to Clinton.
Grassley said he was probing Clinton’s use of a program that let some of Clinton’s allies, including Abedin, do private sector work while also working for the government.
Gowdy said he was not coordinating his probe with Grassley, and rejected any suggestion that the State Department might become overworked with requests for information about Clinton and her aides.
The revelations about Clinton’s emails have raised questions about the State Department’s email practices. Earlier on Thursday, U.S. officials said the State Department does not automatically archive the emails of its assistant secretaries of state, contradicting the department’s prior public statement.
Gowdy said no decisions had been made in the House of Representatives about when Clinton would be called to testify, either about her email use or about the Benghazi events.
Earlier Gowdy had said he hoped to call Clinton to testify in April. On Thursday he said the slowness of responses to his requests for information from Clinton and the State Department had delayed that timetable.
He said he wanted all relevant documents before she appears.
The Benghazi Select Committee also subpoenaed all communications of Clinton’s related to Libya this month, but neither Clinton nor the State Department have produced documents in response to the subpoenas, Gowdy said. Earlier the State Department gave the committee 300 of Clinton’s emails related to Benghazi.
Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Howard Goller