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GOP investigator: Clinton had multiple private email accounts

Hillary Clinton used multiple personal email accounts to communicate while secretary of state, the GOP chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi said.

Hillary Clinton used multiple personal email accounts to communicate while secretary of state, the GOP chairman of the House select committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi terror attack told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Rep. Trey Gowdy called it “frankly nothing short of incredible” that Clinton used private email accounts, though stopped short of calling the practice illegal or unethical.

Gowdy expressed concern that the State Department does not have access to all of Clinton’s email, since it relied on her to turn over emails from "more than one" private account to the government. “Only she has a complete record,” he said.

RELATED: Clinton backers: She did nothing out of the ordinary with email

“You do not need a law degree to have an understanding of how troubling that is,” he added, ticking off a list of potential legal and national security implications. However, Gowdy would not pass judgment on whether or not Clinton had violated the law.

The former prosecutor has previously said he will bring Clinton testify before his committee only once, and only after the State Department turned over all documents he requested. But that may now change. “This revelation … may well lay the groundwork for additional conversations with the secretary in some setting or another,” he said.

He added that he would  not make any of the emails public, despite Democrats' calls to do so, since he doesn’t know how many messages he may be missing.

The discovery of the private email accounts justifies the existence of his investigation, Gowdy continued, despite critics' claims that questions about Benghazi have already been asked and answered. Gawker reported on the private email account in 2013, but no previous committee had access to the emails. 

The State Department has said that Clinton did nothing wrong because the federal regulation requirement the preservation of emails did not go into effect until long after Clinton left office. At least one other former secretary of state, Colin Powell, regularly used private email accounts, and other top government officials have as well.

“I just think it’s good practice if you are conducting official business that you do so in a way where it provides a record,” Gowdy responded.

He also suggested other committees may take up the issue as well. 

RELATED: GOP's Gowdy eyes new conspiracy-theory panel

Gowdy said his committee discovered the private email accounts last summer, but sat on the information and was not the source of The New York Times story making the revelation public. The committee is working to collect the emails now.

Democrats came to Clinton's defense Tuesday, saying the controversy was much ado about nothing. 

The former secretary of state is preparing for a second presidential run, which could launch as early as next month. She will speak Tuesday night an event honoring Emily's List, a women's group that works to elect female Democrats. It's unclear whether she will address the controversy, which Republicans are already trying to make a 2016 campaign issue.