Washington (CNN)The House Committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi formally requested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hand over her private email server to the independent inspector general for the State Department, or to another neutral third party.
First on CNN: House Committee formally requests Clinton's private emails
In a letter sent Friday to Clinton's lawyer and obtained by CNN, committee Chairman Trey Gowdy gave Clinton until April 3 to respond to the request or risk having the issue taken up by the full House of Representatives, which could vote to subpoena the server.
"I am asking Secretary Clinton to relinquish her server to a neutral, detached and independent third-party, such as the Inspector General for the State Department, for review and an independent accounting of any records contained on the server, including a determination of which documents in the Secretary's possession belong to the State Department and which are private," Gowdy wrote to Clinton lawyer David Kendall, calling the request "eminently reasonable."
Republicans have been calling on Clinton to turn over her email server to an independent third-party since news broke earlier this month that she used a personal email account to conduct official State Department business. She did not have an official government email account.
Clinton has turned over 55,000 pages of work-related email to the State Department for review. But Republicans have argued that Clinton should not be the arbiter of which emails were private and which were official.
"Her arrangement allows her to resolve any close calls and err, if at all, on the side of non-disclosure," Gowdy wrote in the letter. "There is no assurance the public record regarding the Secretary's emails is complete."
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill did not say Friday whether she would grant Gowdy's request, but Clinton has said previously that she will not turn over her personal server.
"We've turned over all of her work emails, and (have) taken the extraordinary step of asking the State Department to release all of them," Merrill told CNN. "When they are released, which we hope to be soon, it will offer an unprecedented opportunity for the American people to see for themselves that they are all there and then some."
Democrats on the committee pushed back against Gowdy's letter, arguing that when their party led similar probes, Democrats did not demand a neutral, third party arbiter.
Starting in 2007, then-House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman investigated White House officials who used Republican National Committee email accounts to conduct government business.
"When Bush Administration officials used the Republican National Committee server for official White House business, Democrats worked with RNC lawyers and staff to make sure the proper emails were turned over and preserved. The only reason to depart from that practice here is because Secretary Clinton may run for President," said Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who sits on the Benghazi committee. "The GOP members of the Select Committee may think this is good presidential politics, but it is a terrible abuse of a tax-payer funded committee that was supposed to investigate a tragedy in Benghazi."