Benghazi committee chairman: "Gaps" in Clinton emails

Last Updated Mar 8, 2015 2:45 PM EDT

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, the chairman of the special committee House Republicans created last year to investigate the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, said there are "gaps of months and months and months" in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails she provided for his committee's investigation.

Clinton's email has come under public scrutiny since revelations last week that she used only her personal email account rather than a government address while at the State Department. Gowdy said his committee has received 800 pages of emails so far, but that there are Clinton shouldn't be in charge of deciding what is public record and that he has "lost confidence in the State Department" to do so.

"They're the ones who allowed this arrangement. They're the ones who did nothing about this arrangement until they got a request from our committee," he said. He added that the public deserves a "neutral, detached arbiter" to determine what is a matter of public record and what should be turned over to the special committee.

"I don't want everything. I just want everything related to Libya and Benghazi," he said.

In particular, Gowdy expressed concern that the committee received none of Clinton's emails from a trip to Libya in 2011. There is a well-known photo from that trip of Clinton aboard a C-17 military plane wearing sunglasses and checking her Blackberry.

"It strains credibility to believe that if you're on your way to Libya to discuss Libyan policy, that there's not a single document that's been turned over to Congress. So there are huge gaps," Gowdy said.

He did say, however, that he will not release any of the emails from his investigation because "it's frankly not fair to the secretary....or my fellow citizens to selectively release information."

The five Democrats on the Benghazi committee disagree, however, and say the emails should be made public.

"Allowing these emails to be made public will help clear up any misperceptions and will also help return the Committee to its original purpose, investigating the tragic events in Benghazi, rather than allowing it to become a surrogate for the Republican National Committee," they said in a statement.

At least one Democratic senator thinks the controversy will blow over in the near future.

"The bottom line is she's a national figure, a potential presidential candidate. People are going to shoot at her," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, in a separate interview on "Face the Nation." He and Clinton served together as New York's two senators during most of last decade.

"She is one of the most finest, most upstanding, most honorable people. Always trying to do the right thing. Cares deeply about the country and the middle class. So, you know, this is politics. This is how it is. But I don't think the public's going to pay much attention to this. They care much more about middle class people. Who's going to get their wages going up again? Who's going to create good paying jobs?" Schumer said.

He said that she has turned over more documents than any other former secretaries of state, and that there are not yet allegations that Clinton deleted any of the emails within her control.

In another interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, raised security concerns about the emails.

"They would have been prime targets for cyberattacks. But I don't know what the law is. I think the administration is taking a look at that. And hopefully, we'll find out in the coming weeks just what the legal situation is with regard to that," he said.

In an exclusive interview with CBS News' Senior Washington correspondent Bill Plante over the weekend, President Obama said he only learned of Hillary Clinton's private email address use for official State Department business after a New York Times report.

"The policy of my administration is to encourage transparency, which is why my emails, the BlackBerry I carry around, all those records are available and archived," Mr. Obama said. "I'm glad that Hillary's instructed that those emails about official business need to be disclosed."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.