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The House Benghazi committee just asked Hillary Clinton to testify

Leslie Larson

(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)The House Committee on Benghazi want Hillary Clinton to testify under oath.

The House committee on Benghazi has officially summoned former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify.

The committee's chair, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina), sent a letter to Clinton's lawyer on Tuesday expressing dismay at Clinton's failure to hand over her personal email server so it could be reviewed by a neutral, third party.

"We continue to believe Secretary Clinton's email arrangement with herself is highly unusual, if not unprecedented," Gowdy wrote. "The decision to delete these records during the pendency of a congressional investigation only exacerbates our need to better understand what the Secretary did, when she did it, and why she did it."

Clinton, the presumed Democratic presidential front-runner, has been engulfed in controversy since March 2, when it was revealed she exclusively used a personal email address to conduct official business during her tenure at the State Department.

Republicans and others have said Clinton could have left sensitive communications vulnerable to foreign hackers and may have violated federal recordkeeping regulations. However, Clinton insisted she simply used the personal email as a matter of convenience. She also said she deleted around 30,000 personal emails unrelated to her government work.

Gowdy is leading the House committee dedicated to investigating the 2012 attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, which occurred while Clinton was secretary of state. He requested she testify before his committee by May 1 and suggested a private, transcribed interview instead of a public hearing that would protect Clinton's privacy.

"The Committee believes a transcribed interview 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," he wrote.

However Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill told the Associated Press that Clinton had previously told Gowdy she was willing to appear before the committee 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," Merrill said.

The Benghazi committee's ranking Democratic member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), issued a similar statement on Tuesday calling for a public hearing.

"Rather than drag out this political charade into 2016 and selectively leak portions of a closed-door interview," he said, according to The New York Times, "the committee should schedule the public hearing, make her records public, and refocus its efforts on the attacks in Benghazi."

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