Washington: Hillary Clinton, facing criticism over her exclusive use of a private email account while US secretary of state, has called for her emails to be made public after Republicans subpoenaed the documents.
"I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They (the State Department) said they will review them for release as soon as possible," Clinton said in a tweet late Wednesday night.
Clinton, a leading Democrat contender likely to enter the 2016 presidential race, faced criticism this week when it emerged that she exclusively used a private email account for her work while serving as the US top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
The revelations opened a potential legal quagmire, with accusations that she violated federal record-keeping rules.
But it also raised questions about what might have motivated Clinton to not use a federal government email account making her correspondence part of the public record, and prompted critics to argue the presumptive Democratic White House frontrunner was seeking to evade scrutiny.
At the State Department, deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the department would review such a release "using a normal process that guides such releases."
She added: "We will undertake this review as quickly as possible; given the sheer volume of the document set, this review will take some time to complete."
Earlier Wednesday, Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman a special House committee set up to investigate the deadly terror attacks on the US mission in Benghazi said he would take "legal recourse" to obtain all emails the presumed Democratic frontrunner wrote while secretary of state.
Later in the day, the committee issued subpoenas "for all communications of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton related to Libya," committee spokesman Jamal Ware said in a statement.
The committee also sent "preservation letters" to Internet firms demanding they protect all relevant documents.
"We`re going to get them," committee chairman Gowdy told reporters of the emails.
"We have to go to the source, which would be secretary Clinton herself."
Clinton had no federal government email address during her four years at State, and aides did not seek to preserve her emails on department servers at the time, according to The New York Times, which first reported the story.
The emerging scandal puts Clinton in an awkward bind, with Republicans rushing to denounce the actions and Democrats hesitant about how to defend the woman seen as their party`s leading White House hope.
Many Democratic lawmakers declined to comment about what some critics have already begun to call "emailgate."
"I wouldn`t know" how the scandal might impact Clinton should she mount a presidential run, veteran House Democrat John Lewis demurred.Until now Clinton had remained publicly silent on the issue.
But several of her Republican potential 2016 rivals have pounced, including Jeb Bush who tweeted that "unclassified Hillary Clinton emails should be released."
Former Texas governor Rick Perry, who has made no secret of his interest in a presidential bid, suggested the latest episode was part of a trend toward stonewalling.
"There`s a pattern here of non-transparency," Perry told Fox News.
"It`s an ethical problem that she`s going to have to address."
Congressman Elijah Cummings, the Benghazi panel`s ranking Democrat, expressed outrage that Gowdy might be conducting a "fishing expedition" against the former first lady.
"Everything I`ve seen so far has led me to believe that this is an effort to go after Hillary Clinton. Period," Cummings told reporters.
The scandal is the latest episode that could come back to haunt her during a possible campaign.
Last month, it was revealed that her family`s Clinton Foundation accepted donations from foreign governments.
Her coziness with Wall Street is a potential impediment for progressive voters.
And the Benghazi attacks themselves remain a rallying cry for conservatives who say Clinton is unfit to be commander-in-chief.
Despite lashing out at the subpoena against Clinton, Cummings insisted he was willing to see where the chips fall with the investigation.
"I`m not trying to defend Hillary Clinton," he said.
"I`m trying, as I said from the very beginning, to defend the truth -- whatever the truth is."