Former Clinton Aide Defies House Subpoena While Other Former Aides Invoke The Fifth Amendment Right To Remain Silent

logo-mainjason_chaffetz_official_portrait_111th_congressI recently discussed the questions raised over the Justice Department giving the two former aides to Hillary Clinton immunity — and thereby removing any serious threat of prosecution while seeking information on their superiors. As part of that discussion, I posed the question of whether these previously immunized witnesses would defy Congress. That confrontation appears to be brewing after the former State Department IT specialist who set up Hillary Clinton’s private server Bryan Pagliano simply ignored a subpoena to appear this week before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Ironically, I will be testifying this morning on the congressional authority to enforce subpoenas in the House of Representatives. House oversight committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (right) will now have to decide whether to move to hold Pagliano and other defiant former Clinton aides in contempt for refusing to appear or respond to the Committee.

Other former aides have indicated that they will invoke their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination. Notably, Pagliano did not do so.

Chaffetz noted that the Committee has a “full range of options” to deal with Pagliano and he is correct. Pagliano could have invoked the Fifth Amendment but chose to disobey a subpoena to appear. Moreover he could have appeared and invoked his earlier immunity deal with the Justice Department.

Two officials from Platte River Networks — Bill Thornton and Paul Combetta — did comply and appeared but invoked their right to remain silent. Both read the same standard line: “On the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my Fifth Amendment constitutional privilege.” Combetta did so five times and Thornton did so four times. They were then excused.

Pagliano’s attorney did send a letter to the committee that he will continue to assert his right not to testify but that should have been done in person. Moreover, his immunity deal requires him to cooperate with other parts of the U.S. government. The last time I checked the Congress was still part of the U.S. government.

2 U.S. Code § 192 provides, in part:

Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before … any committee of either House of Congress, willfully makes default … shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.

The Committee would have to vote and refer the matter to the full House. However, the matter would end up back in the hands of the Justice Department which has a long history of blocking congressional contempt sanctions in both the Bush and Obama Administrations. (as I have discussed in prior testimony:here and here and here). The rule is below:

2 U.S. Code § 194 provides, in part:

Whenever a witness summoned as mentioned in section 192 of this title fails to appear to testify or fails to produce any books, papers, rec­ords, or documents, as required … and the fact of such failure or failures is reported to either House while Congress is in session or when Congress is not in session, a statement of fact constituting such failure is reported to and filed with … the Speaker of the House, it shall be the duty of the said … Speaker of the House … to certify, and he shall so certify, the statement of facts aforesaid under the seal of … the House … to the appropriate United States attorney, whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.

100 thoughts on “Former Clinton Aide Defies House Subpoena While Other Former Aides Invoke The Fifth Amendment Right To Remain Silent

  1. More on the protectors: “SEPTEMBER 14, 2016HEADLINES
    In North Dakota, more than 20 people were arrested Tuesday blocking construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline, which has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and members of hundreds of other tribes from across the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Tuesday’s actions took place near New Salem, which is about 70 miles northwest of the main protest camps. Video shows police in full riot gear carrying assault rifles at the site of the protest. Among those arrested were two journalists with the outlet Unicorn Riot. Construction was halted for hours, as two people locked themselves to heavy machinery.

    Water protector: “We’re here locking down to this pipeline machinery and stopping construction on this site for today and letting the world know that pipeline construction of the Dakota Access pipeline is still continuing. Contrary to what a lot of folks thought after last Friday’s intervention by the Obama administration, making it seem like they were going to stop the pipeline, pipeline continues to be built.” Democracy now

  2. Gosh, I wonder what will happen when the average American prole figures out that there are two or maybe three sets of laws, and that the rules and penalties apply only to people the elite dislike?
    The rule of law depends on the compliance of average citizens without force or even (largely)oversight.

    That ends now.
    Good luck.

    • Pretty much. It’s not merely that there’s a set of laws for the patriciate and a set for ordinary people. There are multiple sets of laws for members of the elite. Sen. Ted Stevens, an unpleasant Capitol Hill fixture, was run out of Congress on trumped up corruption charges, largely fabricated by federal prosecutors who received slap-on-the-wrist reprimands for their trouble. Lewis Libby ran up a seven digit legal bill defending himself against perjury charges. The federal prosecutor in that case spent over 3 years ‘investigating’ a question he had the answer to at the beginning of his inquiry and then lodged perjury charges against one man who testified in front of the grand jury because his memory of who had told him what when in his cluttered schedule differed from what these others remembered (whose memories differed from each other), all about a matter of scant intrinsic importance. Conrad Black’s businesses were destroyed by this man, largely through creative use of federal statutes, uses disallowed by subsequent appellate court decisions. And, yet, Lois Lerner pleads the 5th, Douglas Shulman lies through his teeth to Congress, John Koskinen and others respond with arrogance and obstruction to congressional inquiries and nothing happens. At the very least, they are begging the next administration to take the gloves off and financially ruin them.

      • You are so right. If you want to see how the Department of Justice works and whose running this administration, read LICENSED TO LIE: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice. Readers give it 5 stars on Amazon. DOJ despises it–and it’s true. It reads like a legal thriller, but it pulls no punches and names names. No lawyer has ever written a book like this. Brendan Sullivan of Williams and Connolly says it’s better than any criminal law course in the country and “malpractice to litigate against the DOJ without reading it.” Also see my articles at Observer.com on Lois Lerner, DOJ, and others!

  3. At today’s #NoDAPL lockdown action (different from yesterday) law enforcement again targeted and arrested people who were filming/streaming. (Unicorn Riot twitter)

    Yes, different “laws” depending on who you are.

  4. Just wondering why Prof Turley has been silent on the political sabotaging of a criminal investigation in WI of illegal campaign contributions. Turns out the Supreme Court justice who voted to enjoin the investigation was the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the case. Not surprisingly, he voted to stop the investigation, and then ordered the files sealed and destroyed. This is a whole lot worse than Clinton’s e-mails which the FBI rules had not violated any law that rose to a criminal level.

  5. I just heard that Trump is talking about emails hacked by Putin from Hillary which show Hillary discussing her sex life with Monica and then bitching at Monica for having sex with Bill.

  6. Oh No!

    Rich people are treated differently than poor people in America? Say it ain’t so!!!

    People who work for banks and big corporations get away with murder, mayhem, treason, and multiple major felonies by paying a fine and NOT admitting any wrongdoing? It just can’t be!!!

    Is anyone really naive enough or ill-informed enough or just plain stupid enough to not already know this?

    This has been the case since the founding of the country and it’s nothing new. from the simplest rich white kid rapes a girl and gets probation, to the admitted laundering of BILLIONS of dollars for enemies of the US and getting away with a minor fine that you can steal back in a matter of days.

    Alt-Reichians are just pissed because maybe it’s happening to someone they don’t like. They’re perfectly fine when it happens to one of their own.

    • phillyT – Hillary’s people are defrauding small contributors out of more of their money, but keeping it just under the $100 limit so the banks don’t take notice. It is really a multi-state RICO case of wire fraud. The question I pose to you is, Should Hillary be held accountable for her minions, or should she just throw them under the bus as usual?

    • You’re calling fraud because people accidentally check the recurring donation button on a campaign web site?

      Hahahahaha!

      Thanks for the laugh. If that’s all you’ve got, go back to your mom’s basement.

      Want to do some real research? Compare the ratings of the Clinton Foundation (A rating from multiple sources), to that of the Trump charities which are either criminally deceptive or just brutally lying and scamming people.

      Furthermore, with $100 Million spent trying to pin something on Mrs. Clinton, she has ZERO anything pinned on her. ZERO. Except for the raving of a lifelong Republican FBI director, whose accusations have since been refuted by the State Departments own IG.

      After all that. And who, by the way, reviewed ALL of Colin Powell or Condi Rice’s emails to make sure they had the right security headers and designations? Answer. NO ONE! Why do you suppose that is? They bother used private servers. You think there were no security breaches or mistakes made? Give me a break.

      So $100 Million spent on Clinton and no indictments. Not one. Ten minutes of scratching the surface of Donald Trumps life and we see that he bribed a Florida AG to drop his Trump U class action suit in her state, and that he did it illegally through on of his charities, and then hosted a fundraiser for him. The class action lawsuit against him is scheduled for November anyway. We could go on with the assault and rape charges from his first wife, the pending rape charges from the 13 year old he raped, and oh, did we mention the over 4,000 lawsuits to which he has been party.

      And you want to talk about people getting upset for clicking the wrong button on a campaign website?

      You crack me up!

      • phillyT – you have drunk the Kool-Aid. Just saw the Clinton Foundation gives 5.7% of its funds to charity, the rest to salaries, overhead and others. Everyone got a big raise this year at the Foundation. BTW, it is Bill’s Bday and they want to to contribute funds to the Clinton Foundation. Last chance to pay for play. Even you could do it if you had enough money.

        BTW, if you check those fraud complaints, they are not checking the repeat box. The Clinton org is doing and stopping just under $100. If the checked the repeat box it would go over. And the bank would call and ask if that is what they intended to do. These people spent hours on the phone with the Clinton org before going to their bank and finally getting satisfaction.

        Oh, did you see how Trump trolled the press on his Obama heritage statement. Very cool. He knows how to bury the lede.🙂

        • I assume you got your “facts” about the Clinton Foundation from Brietbart or RedState or Stormfront, because they are complete BS.

          Charity Navigator says that the 86.9% of their total expenses go to programs:
          https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=16680

          Nice try though.

          And almost every news outlet including Faux, deleted the footage of Trump’s fake news conference which was little more than a publicity stunt for his new hotel. Fun fact, guess how much of the stuff in his new hotel was made in America? If you guessed “Almost None” you win our prize.

          • phillyT – http://nypost.com/2015/04/26/charity-watchdog-clinton-foundation-a-slush-fund/

            Charity Navigator: We had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity’s atypical business model can not be accurately captured in our current rating methodology. Our removal of The Clinton Foundation from our site is neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of this charity. We reserve the right to reinstate a rating for The Clinton Foundation as soon as we identify a rating methodology that appropriately captures its business model.

            What does it mean that this organization isn’t rated?

            It simply means that the organization doesn’t meet our criteria. A lack of a rating does not indicate a positive or negative assessment by Charity Navigator.

            BTW Powerline is a great source.

        • What the IG said was that at minimum, two of the four emails the FBI had said were classified and therefore improperly sent using the private server, were in FACT NOT classified, not marked incorrectly, and that the FBI was in error.

          I would still like to know who reviewed ALL of Colin Powell’s emails and Condi Rice’s emails to make sure they were all properly coded and that no classified information ended up in the wrong hands. I mean, they ARE concerned about national security, right? And this WAS during wartime, right? Granted it was a fabricated war that Dick Cheney put on for Haliburton, but there were still American soldiers putting their lives on the line. How many hearings? How many reviews? How many emails?

          You might guess that Colin Powell ( who was recently referred to by Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian as a “backstabbing little bitch), would know how to properly classify his emails given his years of military experience, but we don’t really know, do we? And Condi? Less experience than Hillary and same private email server.

          So just answer that question, eh?

          • Philly T.
            “The State Department’s independent watchdog has issued a highly critcal analysis of Hillary Clinton’s email practices while running the department, concluding that she failed to seek approval for use of a private email server, and that department staff would bot have
            given approval because of ‘security risks in doing so’.”
            -from WASHINGTON POST, MAY 25, 2016.
            There are other similar articles on the daming report of the State Dept. IG.
            Guess the Washington Post is just another part of “the vast, right wing conspiracy” against Hillary.

  7. Phiily T. …The problem with your citing the State Dept. IG’s report on defense of Hillary is that some readers know what the IG actually said.
    You either are unaware of the IG’s conclusions, or intentionally distort the contents of that report.

      • phillyT – still not getting the point. Powell and Rice had different systems than Hillary. They had personal email and a secure State Dept computer for secure mail. Hillary only had an insecure ‘home brew’ that was attacked several times. This insecure server was set up by people without a security clearance. Also, the people who wiped the drive(s) did not have security clearances.

        • Listen to yourself.

          Hillary and EVERY person who sends secure and/or classified emails have a secure system for sending email. That’s never been an issue. Really surprised you don’t know this. They also have a courier system in place.
          Powell and Rice ALSO had private email accounts, and we have no idea what they may or may not have sent using those accounts and whether or not they send things that were later classified, or simply made mistakes and sent things over one system when they should have used the other.

          We don’t know who managed their accounts. We don’t know who may or may not have cleaned up after them when they left. We just don’t know.

          • Hillary and EVERY person who sends secure and/or classified emails have a secure system for sending email. That’s never been an issue.

            I think PhillyT’s problem is that he admires and emulates mendacity.

          • phillyT – we do know that Colin Powell handed over both his personal and State Dept emails when he left. He did not wipe the system clean. Hillary had her lawyers (who did not have a high enough security clearance to handle some of the emails) sort the emails. Platte River wiped the disk after they were told not to.

  8. Philly T.
    You can either stick with your statement (6PM, Sept.18) that that State Dept. IG refuted “the raving of a Republican FBI Director”, or take an honest look at what the State Dept. IG report concluded.
    I have previously given two sources re the IG report.
    It isn’t surprizing that you haven’t read either one, but somewhat surprizing that you now say “Still not what I was talking about”, given your Sept.18 6PM comment.
    You had mentioned that Schulte “cracked you up”, but I think that ship had already sailed in your case.

    • You and Schulte have something in common, which is that you both seem to like to take a small piece of someone else’s statement or argument, blow it up out of all proportion, and then try to make it seem like that’s the whole thing.

      Clinton made multiple errors in judgment, especially knowing that the eyes of the Republicans would be on her for ever and ever.

      The FACT remains that the State Dept refuted much of what the FBI said. The FACT remains that there have been ZERO hearings about Powell;s and Rice’s emails, both on private servers, to review what kind of national security harm may have been done.

      If you have some OTHER point to make, have at it, but stop telling me what point I was making because you’re just wrong.

      • phillyT – Just as Powell does, I refer you to his book. He spends an entire chapter on his email problems when he got to the State Dept. He also has had email drops showing he is not happy with Hillary throwing him under the bus on this issue. He warned her beforehand and during her tenure according to him.

            • The results of the FBI email investigation, as well as the State Department’s IG report, are out there.
              And there are numerous summaries of both by reputable news organizations.
              When an individual uses “sources” like the Daily News Bin, or “Betty Bowers”,
              I recommend that readers take a look at how these “sources” compare with legitimate publications.

  9. philly T.
    Capitalizing FACT does not turn a lie into the truth.
    110 of the Hillary emails were marked classified at the time the were transmitted.
    Eight of those were if the highest, “Top Secret” category.
    About 2,000 of Hillary’s emails were retroactively marked classified. As Sec. of State, she was aware that many of these were “born classified”, regardless of their designation at the time.
    There is ample verification for all of the above. But you pull a bogus article out of the “Daily News Bin” aka the Daily Trash Bin, for your citation.
    Capitalize your “FACTS” all you want, and continue inventing your own.
    But don’t be too surprized when you are occasionally called on your demonstrbly false statements.
    That’s the downside of manufacturing your own “FACTS”.

    • Tnash – I think phillyT is working for David Brock. He may be part of Brock’s Correct the Record campaign to go on blogs, etc. to set the Clinton record straight. Of course, that is like straightening a pretzel.

    • Tnash
      I think Shulte is working for Brietbart or the Koch Brothers or maybe Stormfront.

      See how easy that is?

      Mock my sources if you want. Hone in on some detail and blow it sky high if it makes you feel better. But the State Department did contradict the FBI report. And NO ONE has looked into anything that happened before Clinton.

      So is it about national security or just politics? The answer is clearly politics.

      • phillyT – it clearly is about national security. Neither Rice nor Powell had a home-brew server in their bathroom running both personal and State Dept emails. That is a fact, Jack!

  10. I didn’t realize that Powell and Rice were running for president.
    Given that they apparently are candidates, a review oof their email practices may be in order.
    We may find that they, too, used their own private email servers rather that secure State Dept. systems.
    Or that they used BleachBit to destroy 30,000 emails under subpeona.
    More likely, the finding would be that Hillary was in a league of her own in mishandling sensitive State Dept. communications.

    • It’s a fact that Powell and Rice did use private servers. No one reviewed their mail. No one knows what happened to those accounts, or who cleaned up after them. No one knows how many of their email chains got re-classified after the fact.

      And of course, no one cares, because it’s only Hillary Clinton they want. The Republicans are not the least bit interested in national security. Just partisan Puritans is what they are.

        • Paul C. Schulte
          Philly T has a history of manufacturing his own FACTS ( he likes to capitalize that word in an effort to legitimize his distortions).
          There is a limit to the amount of time I’ll invest countering deluded individuals who represent their fantasies as fact.
          It’s pointless. And I still think it was unfair to say that you cracked him up, given his delusional posts.
          Fact checking can turn into and endless job when trying to counter one who places no value on facts.
          It comes down to a problem of time; it’s far easier to ” manufacture facts”
          than to untangle and refute those distortions.

        • Excellent point Paul!

          So which do think is more secure: having your own server with your own security people, or using an account you set up on AOL or Yahoo Mail? Or whatever public server Powell and Rice may have used? My take is that it’s way less secure and way more likely to be hacked or “monitored” by other agencies or people at the email provider than having your own server and limiting who has access.

          Maybe you see it differently.

          • phillyT – you do not seem to read correctly. Powell devoted an entire chapter in his book on his problems with emails. He used a private account for personal stuff and a secured server and terminal for all State Dept. stuff. Hillary used her unsecured Blackberry for both.

            • No she didn’t The State Department has a very specific tool and system for sending actual classified messages. You can’t just log into that system on your Blackberry. It’s just not possible. They have their own laptops and secure devices. Get a clue.

              • phillyT- If you actually read the transcripts of the co-conspirators, you would learn that Hillary cannot use a computer and can only use a Blackberry or Ipad. She is technically limited.

  11. Philly T.
    In directly qouting something from one of your comments, you were clear enough about the point that you were making.
    Other than directly quoting your comment about the State Dept. IG refuting the established mishandling of classified material, I didn’t tell you “the point you were making”; YOU made that point, I quoted it.

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