WASHINGTON — The State Department said Friday it can’t find emails belonging to a former department employee who helped set up and maintain Hillary Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state.

The department has found emails from Bryan Pagliano’s work as a private contractor, spokesman Alec Gerlach said, but the files were created after Clinton left office in January 2013. The agency is continuing to search for emails Pagliano sent and received during Clinton’s tenure and will share them with members of Congress if they are located, Gerlach said.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and other lawmakers are seeking Pagliano’s emails as part of a wide-ranging investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email account and server while she was secretary of state.

Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called retrieval of Pagliano’s emails a top priority as the committee considers whether to grant Pagliano immunity from prosecution and compel his testimony.

Pagliano refused to testify in September before a House committee investigating the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. His lawyers said then that Pagliano won’t testify before any congressional committees.

The State Department told Grassley a limited number of Pagliano’s emails were retrieved from files belonging to other department employees. The agency said its efforts have been hampered by the fact that the FBI has possession of Pagliano’s State Department computer.

Grassley on Friday that the State Department has improved its cooperation with his investigation, but he said retrieving Pagliano’s email remains “the committee’s highest priority request.”

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