The former aide that helped set up the private email server used by Hillary Rodham Clinton will, according to the New York Times, invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination before the congressional committee investigating the matter. Bryan Pagliano worked for Clinton in her failed presidential campaign in 2008. He was then brought into the State Department and helped her create a server separate from the secured State Department system so she could control her own emails. If this news was not bad enough, the Washington Post is reporting that Clinton herself wrote and transmitted classified emails on her unsecured server. If that is not bad enough, Fox News is reporting that Clinton staff members may have changed classified markings on documents to hide their classified status.
Pagliano’s lawyer has notified the congressional panel that Pagliano will refuse to answer questions on the matter in fear of self-incrimination as is his right. He could still be called to force him to invoke in person. He could also be given immunity to force him to testify. He was the information technology director for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and then worked at the State Department as an adviser and special projects manager for its chief technology officer. He then left the State Department in February 2013 when Clinton left. Clinton’s use of campaign associates for the server has raised eyebrows, particularly given recent reports that the State Department IT people did not know of the use of a personal server by Clinton and she used an iPad extensively that was not secured or approved.
The Clinton campaign issued a statement that Pagliano’s invoking the Fifth is “both understandable and disappointing to us, because we believe he has every reason to be transparent about his I.T. assistance.”
“We had hoped Bryan would also agree to answer any questions from the committee and had recently encouraged him to grant the committee’s request for an interview. . . Bryan is an utter professional and a wonderful young man who does not live in the public eye and understandably may not wish to be drawn into a political spectacle.”
The question will now become one of immunity. The problem with investigations of this kind is that people can trip criminal wires with false statements to investigators — that can then be charged separately as a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. That can then put them into a precarious category for the Clinton campaign and folks looking for deals in cooperation with investigators. In the meantime, the scandal bleeds into the campaign. Even with the controversial delay of debates and the limitation of debates that Clinton will have to face, the scandal is clearly having an impact on Clinton with her highest unfavorable ratings since her last presidential campaign.