Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, under fire for using her personal email address to conduct official business during her tenure as America's top diplomat, said she has asked the State Department to release her emails.
"I want the public to see my email," Clinton said late Wednesday night in a brief Twitter message. "I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible."
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf issued a statement saying the agency will review Clinton's emails "using a normal process that guides such releases."
"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," Harf said.
"The review is likely to take several months given the sheer volume of the document set," a senior State Department official told Reuters.
That could dash any Clinton hopes of putting the controversy to rest quickly, and give her Republican foes plenty of time to hit her with allegations that the use of personal email for official duties while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 was inappropriate.
On Thursday, the Republican National Committee's top lawyer asked the State Department's inspector general to investigate Clinton's email use.
"The American public deserves to know whether one of its top-ranking public official's actions violated federal law," RNC Chief Counsel John Phillippe wrote in a letter urging the probe.
Clinton broke her silence on the matter after her use of her personal email address was revealed by The New York Times, which added that she may have violated federal records laws that require archiving official government documents.
The story took on an added dimension Wednesday when a story published by The Associated Press said Clinton used a personal email server based in her family's home in New York.
The revelations prompted the chairman of the special House of Representatives committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya to subpoena Clinton's emails related to the incident.
Four Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. Congressional Republicans have criticized Clinton for not doing enough to ensure the safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya.
Clinton and her staff turned over to the State Department about 50,000 pages of emails related to her time as secretary of state last year. From that collection, the department turned over 300 pages of emails related to Benghazi to the House committee.
The revelations about the emails come as Hillary Clinton remains the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, although she hasn't announced that she is running.
She is not the only secretary of state to conduct official business via private email, but political analysts say doing so for all correspondence is unusual.
Representative Elijah Cummings, the leading Democratic lawmaker on the House Benghazi committee, said he believes Republicans will try to use the email controversy simply to attack Clinton.
Some information for this report from Reuters.