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Benghazi Panel Requests Interview with Hillary Clinton by May 1

GOP says the move is necessary because Clinton declined the committee's request to turn her personal email server over to a third party.
Cliff Owen / AP
/ Source: NBC News

The House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks has formally requested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appear before the panel for an interview about her use of a private email server during her tenure at the department.

In a letter to Clinton's attorney, committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy said that the panel is willing to schedule the private interview "at a time convenient for Secretary Clinton, but no later than May 1, 2015."

In a statement, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said :

"Secretary Clinton already told the committee months ago that she was ready to appear at a public hearing. It is by their choice that hasn't happened. To be clear, she remains ready to appear at a hearing open to the American public."

Gowdy, a Republican, says the move is necessary because Clinton declined the committee's request to turn her personal email server over to the State Department's Inspector General for review.

"Because of the Secretary's unique arrangement with herself as it relates to public records during and after her tenure as Secretary of State, this Committee is left with no alternative but to request Secretary Clinton appear before this Committee for a transcribed interview to better understand decisions the Secretary made relevant to the creation, maintenance, retention, and ultimately deletion of public records," he wrote.

A transcribed interview, he added, "would best protect Secretary Clinton's privacy, the security of the information queried, and the public's interest in ensuring this Committee has all information needed to accomplish the task set before it."

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the panel, called the request a "political charade" and said that any discussion with Clinton should be public.

“Secretary Clinton agreed to testify months ago—in public and under oath—so the Select Committee’s claim that it has no choice but to subject her to a private staff interview is inaccurate. Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview, the Committee should schedule the public hearing , make her records public, and re-focus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi.”

- Carrie Dann and Alex Moe