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Benghazi prober: Clinton delays work

But Rep. Gowdy said he doesn't want issue in presidential race.

Rep. Trey Gowdy said Sunday that he doesn't want the House Select Committee on Benghazi's work - which has now expanded to include a look at Hillary Rodham Clinton's e-mail practices - to become a focus of the presidential contest.

"I would like to be through as quickly as possible," Gowdy (R., S.C.), head of the committee, told NBC's Chuck Todd on Meet the Press. "I have no interest, zero interest, in you and I having this conversation in 2016."

But, Gowdy said, Clinton's delay in disclosing that she used only a personal e-mail address to conduct business as secretary of state has slowed the committee down.

After Clinton publicly defended her e-mail practices last week, Gowdy said he would call her to testify twice, once about her e-mail and once about the deadly 2012 terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Gowdy said he remains focused on the circumstances surrounding the attack, adding he would also like to call former CIA Director David Petraeus. "She is a very important part of understanding what happened in Libya and Benghazi," he said, but "she's not even a central focus."

Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), who also serves on the Benghazi committee, disputed Gowdy's comments, saying the committee hasn't taken up Clinton's offer to testify yet for political reasons.

"They wanted to put off her testimony as far into the presidential cycle as possible," Schiff said on Fox News Sunday. "The whole purpose of this committee is really Secretary Clinton."

Also speaking on Fox News Sunday, Gowdy said the House might have to subpoena the private server that Clinton used if she wouldn't turn it over to a third party who could review her claim that about 30,000 now-deleted messages were personal and unrelated to government business. (Unlike committees, the House can subpoena personal property.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said on CBS's Face the Nation that Clinton's lawyers have asked him and Gowdy to release the e-mails they have from her.

"Hopefully Trey will agree to that and make that happen," said Cummings. Gowdy has said he won't release the messages because he is not sure if they are complete.

Also Sunday, longtime ally James Carville defended Clinton, saying her e-mail practices were legal. But, he added, she may also have had prying Republican eyes in mind when she chose to do business through a private e-mail server.

"I suspect she didn't want Louie Gohmert rifling though her e-mails, which seems to me to be a kind of reasonable position for someone to take," Carville said.

Gohmert, a conservative from Texas, serves on the House Judiciary Committee.