First on CNN: Benghazi committee seeks emails from top Clinton aides

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Clinton on email: 'I opted for convenience'
05:53 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

The House Select Committee on Benghazi is going to seek private emails from as many as 10 of Hillary Clinton’s top lieutenants at the State Department, CNN has learned.

During her press conference on Tuesday, the former secretary of state said she was turning over emails that had to do with official business, but House Republican investigators contend some of that business may have been conducted on private-to-private email accounts and therefore not captured elsewhere.

READ: Clinton’s email excuse won’t quiet critics

“That’s great when you email other people on the .gov it would be captured by the .gov server, but if you’re talking to people private to private that will never be captured,” Rep. Trey Gowdy, the committee chairman, told CNN on Tuesday.

“We are going to seek any private email that relates to official business, and I don’t care about wedding cakes, but any work that could have been done on private-to-private accounts for those State Department employees we know had private accounts,” the South Carolina Republican said.

A Clinton spokesman referred questions about private emails between Clinton and then-agency staffers to the State Department.

Gowdy said they want to see private emails as they relate to official business from people like Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff at the state department, longtime aide Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan, then-deputy chief of staff.

“She said she she went through and produced all public information – and I am not in the habit of accusing people of being untruthful unless I have evidence to the contrary – but she’s essentially asking us to take her word for it,” said Gowdy.

He said it is premature to say whether the committee will subpoena these former Clinton State Department aides to get the emails.

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Gowdy said his select committee only has jurisdiction over emails regarding Libya.

But he said there are gaps of time – in which Clinton likely would have been emailing about Libya – where the committee received no emails.

For example they got no emails from her trip to Libya in October 2011, even though there is an iconic photo of her on a C17 with her Blackberry in her hand.

“It wouldn’t be reasonable that she was on her way to Libya to discuss Libyan policy and there are no emails from that trip,” said Gowdy.

Gowdy told CNN there are gaps in emails that Clinton gave the committee of “several weeks, if not in some instances months.”

He said that may be because she wasn’t emailing about Libya during those gaps.

Current State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said Monday that while she could not speak directly to a trip made under Clinton’s tenure as secretary, it is not uncommon to cease emailing while overseas.

“I obviously wasn¹t on that trip, but I¹ve been on many with [current Secretary of State John Kerry] where there are communications issues, where you really don’t send emails given communications issues or given that the staff you need to ask questions of are right around you,” Psaki said.

Clinton’s office issued a statement on Tuesday explaining how it searched through the secretary¹s private server for relevant emails to hand over to the State Department for archiving including searching for specific terms like “Benghazi” and “Libya”.

“With respect to materials that the select committee has requested, the department has stated that just under 300 emails related to Libya were provided by the department to the select committee in response to a November 2014 letter, which contained a broader request for materials than prior requests from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee,” the statement said.

“Given Secretary Clinton¹s practice of emailing department officials on their addresses, the separtment already had, and had already provided, the select committee with emails from Secretary Clinton in August 2014 -prior to requesting and receiving printed copies of her emails,” it said.

CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.