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House GOP to Hillary Clinton: Turn over the server

The House Select Committee on Benghazi formally asked Clinton voluntarily turn over her server to a third party Friday.

The controversy over Hillary Clinton's emails is not going away.

The House Committee investigating the Benghazi terror attacks formally requested the all-but-declared presidential candidate to turn over her private email server to a third party in a letter to her lawyer Friday.

It’s the latest move in a three-week old controversy over Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state, which critics say ran afoul of federal record-keeping policy.

RELATED: Did Valerie Jarrett leak Hillary’s email?

The committee, chaired by South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, asked Clinton to give her server to a “neutral, detached and independent third-party,” suggesting the State Department’s inspector general. "The Committee must have objective assurances it, and by extension the House of Representatives as a whole, has received all relevant information requests and necessary for a thorough investigation into what happened, during and after the attacks."

The request is voluntary, but could set up a legal confrontation between House Republicans and Clinton if she does not comply. At a press conference at the United Nations last week, Clinton said unequivocally: “The server will remain private.”

Republicans likely have the authority to legally compel Clinton to turn over her server, but it would be unprecedented and might require a new vote before the entire House of Representatives. 

When Democrats controlled Congress and investigated George W. Bush White House adviser Karl Rove’s use of a non-governmental email server, they did not force the turning over of the server. 

Clinton spokespersons Nick Merrill did not address Gowdy's letter directly, but said Clinton has already done plenty to comply with the committee's requests. "We’ve turned over all of her work emails, and taken the extraordinary step of asking the State Department to release all of them. When they are released, which we hope to be soon, it will offer an unprecedented opportunity for the American people to see for themselves that they are all there and then some," he said.

Democrats on the committee condemned the request. "The only reason to depart from that practice here, is because Secretary Clinton may run for President. The GOP members of the Select Committee may think this is good presidential politics, but it is a terrible abuse of a tax-payer funded committee that was supposed to investigate a tragedy in Benghazi," said Rep. Adam Schiff, who is also the top Democratic on the House Intelligence Committee.