Top Oversight Dem defends Clinton's use of private email account
© Anne Wernikoff

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee and the special Benghazi panel, is defending Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic debates are magnet for lobbyists NYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders MORE after revelations that she exclusively used a personal email address for official business while secretary of State.

“It has been public for several years that Secretary Clinton used her personal email account, apparently following the pattern of previous Secretaries of State,” Cummings said in a statement.

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“Although Secretary Clinton has produced her emails to the State Department, it is unclear from press reports whether previous Secretaries have done the same.”

He added that the Benghazi committee received hundreds of Clinton’s emails relating to the attacks last month and called on Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyGreen says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely Trump golfs with Graham ahead of impeachment trial Trey Gowdy returns to Fox News as contributor MORE (R-S.C.), the committee’s chairman, to make those emails public.

Gowdy said in February that the committee wants to meet with Clinton “as soon as possible,” and has asked the State Department for all “emails, documents and other materials … which would be needed to constructively ask questions of Secretary Clinton.”

The New York Times reported on Monday night that Clinton used her personal email address exclusively while at the State Department. Her use of personal email was previously known — a 2013 hack showed that she had used a personal address to email a former aide, Sidney Blumenthal.

Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, said in a statement that she followed the “letter and spirit of the rules,” because her emails to government officials were automatically backed up.

Correct the Record, the pro-Clinton rapid-response group, sent out a memo explaining that Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocratic debates are magnet for lobbyists The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Bring on the brokered convention MORE is the first in that post to “rely primarily” on government email, and noting that Colin Powell used a personal email address while secretary.

The group also points out that Clinton cooperated with the State Department when it requested her emails. Her office sent State more than 55,000 pages of emails, including hundreds relating to the attacks on the Benghazi compound.

But Republicans are already hitting Clinton and portraying the discovery as proof that she's too secretive.

"Voters should be extremely concerned Hillary Clinton kept all of her official email correspondence off the books at the same time corporations and foreign governments that donated to her foundation were lobbying her State Department," Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Short said in an email.

"Whether it’s these new developments or the decades of secrecy surrounding the Clintons, Hillary comes across as someone that’s got something to hide."