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. This is information on the US govt. related “security” firm being hired against the protectors at DAP.

    This is completely related to govt. corruption and lack of the rule of law. This is what this govt. and it’s corporate BFFs will do to you when you resist. Fortunately, the protectors of the earth are very courageous people and they aren’t backing down!

  2. Yes. Autumn, I think Bernie is a complete fraud so I pretty much dismiss anything like this as Bernie grandstanding for the followers he has left in the Dem. party. He has to make them think that party has a left wing who “cares”. They don’t.

    1. Do you really think Bernie is a fraud? I do not. I think he was threatened by the Clinton machine – who knows? Did they threaten to take Jane or the grands out? I think this is why he left the Demoncrats and went back to being an Indie. Sure, he has to shill for the Hill every now and then BUT I think he knows we Bernieorbusters will never “fall in line” as HRC represents everything he railed against during the Primaries. I will always be grateful to Bernie for waking me up.

      1. Autumn – if Bernie really had a set he would tell his people to abandon Hillary. To run for the hills.

        1. Paul, I think Bernie did all he could do given the dragon and her powerful owners. He took the opportunity to inspire hundreds of thousands of people to become involved politically before they hobbled him. We Bernieorbusters feel that he was threatened and backed off. His legacy remains – we will NEVER ever vote for HRC. We are all about Jill and some are for the Donald.

      2. Yes, Autumn, I think he is a fraud. Bernie has been breaking bad since the 1990’s. I don’t believe he was threatened at that time, nor that he was continually threatened since then. Really, he has done some very bad things before any of this entered the picture.

        He doesn’t need to be threatened. He backed the Clintons well before this election in their prior endeavors. He has a record and it just doesn’t match up to blackmail. There are some good articles on Bernie’s record at Counterpunch.

        1. Jill, what you say is true however like any other person Bernie made mistakes – especially as a pol. However, that does not make him a fraud in my book. If Bernie hadn’t entered the race many people – young and old would not have become involved. Jimmy Carter also did some horrible things – yet we can’t dismiss his Habitat for Humanity work and his diplomatic skills in foreign policy issues. I remain firmly a Bernieorbuster my friend!

          1. Autumn,

            I still feel as I do and I understand why you feel as you do.

            I’m glad he has inspired you and so many other people to become involved. That is a good thing!

            1. Jill, to me our exchange exemplifies the difference between two Progressives having a civil discourse – listening to each other and respectfully agreeing to disagree vs Hilbots. Actually, I have had many many civil conversations with my Trumpster friends as well! I do not see that with my die-hard Hilbot friends — they get angry and sometimes hateful.

          2. Autumn – I just finished The President’s Club. Jimmy Carter does not come out well as a diplomat. He has problems remembering he is not President anymore.

  3. There really is a “basket of deplorables” and it IS the progressive, weaponized, administrative state ignorantly created by We the People.

  4. What a fuss about nothing. Secretary Clinton didn’t create nor did she receive anything classified. She ran a totally transparent State Department. Therefore, she did not need a secure server nor were any of those who had access required to have a security clearance. Now, all of her emails, sent and received, should be published without redaction. [sarcasm]

    Congresspersons should do something useful, resign.

    1. Why should only Congresspeople resign? This is a scandal involving the president, a former sec. of state and the judiciary. I wish it were only Congress!

      In this case Congress is being stonewalled by a more powerful member of the oligarchy. Just as Karl Rove knew he could blow off congress, so does Clinton and her minions. This tells us a lot about what kind of govt. we really have: no rule of law, rule by fiat of the oligarchy.

    2. What a fuss about nothing. Secretary Clinton didn’t create nor did she receive anything classified. S

      OK, you shoot your mouth off when you know nothing. Thanks for the education.

      1. @Teaching Spastics to dance
        Even Hillary had to give up on the lie that she never sent or received classified material.
        But I’m sure she’s grateful for others who repeat that lie for her, as in the 10:41AM comment you responded to.
        Glad to see that somebody finally called her on it.

  5. These actions and the various leaks (Democrats, please read about Republican leaks at the Guardian) are starting to reveal the deep state in the US. No, political actors do not feel bound by law.

    I don’t care what party you are from. We need to care about our nation enough to thrown off partisan blinders and start really looking at what has happened in the US. Namely, we are a military, corporate state with full complicity of Congress, the President and the judiciary (with few exceptions).

    As citizens we must come together and stop excusing the behavior of our beloved “team”. We have to want something more for this country. We need justice and we won’t get that by lying about our team. We’ll get it by seeking the truth, no matter where it leads, and standing up for justice.

  6. Bob,
    why does it seem that people will spend more time and effort trying to circumvent tangible benchmarks of duty and responsibility?
    I can only conclude they do so with criminal intentions.
    A 5th grader can figure this out.

    1. Roscoe,
      Without asking them for an honest (impossible) answer, there is only professional observations, offered by Psychologists and Psychiatrists as to why. I happen to believe the behavior is compulsive and/or sociopathic behavior. Some people just don’t know the difference between Right and Wrong, To Be or Not To Be, etc, etc., which are beliefs that seem to be strongly propelled by a belief system that acknowledges right from wrong and some higher ‘being’.
      During the Watergate Investigations “Jerry Zeifman said he supervised Hillary Rodham Clinton as she worked on the team that worked on the Watergate impeachment inquiry, and that during the investigation Hillary Clinton had “…engaged in a variety of self-serving, unethical practices in violation of House rules.” Jerry Zeifman also said that Hillary Rodham Clinton regularly consulted with Ted Kennedy’s chief political strategist, which was a violation of House rules. In a 1999 interview with the Scripps Howard News Service, Zeifman said he didn’t have the power to fire Clinton, or else he would have.

      So, you be the judge of this type of behavior.

  7. And HRC has surrounded herself with the vilest national security advisors – they will create their own laws and circumvent Congress.

  8. Karl Rove. Obama and Clinton triple down on the likes of Bush/Cheneyco.

    Check out the new leaks at dncleak on twitter or the link is at wikileaks. Learn how much an ambassadorship really costs! See more on fixing elections (by Democrats). Learn how to have fake protest with interns and how to leverage prior knowledge for financial gain!

    This govt. isn’t real, it’s just a set of illusions and it is despicable.

  9. Bob
    Cooper should not been given access to the information without having a security clearance.
    Who signed off on that failure in protocol?
    This should be answered immediately.

    1. Roscoe,
      Re: Cooper: That is correct. But he was. Is he being thrown under the bus by the clinton machine? He appeared to be smart. So, did anyone in the clinton inner circle sign off on any protocol? Hell NO. No paper trail, please! Opp’s, I can’t remember.

      To illustrate what good a paper trail is, look at the paper trail at State that HRC signed off on in the handling of emails containing classified information? Opp’s, I can’t remember, lol. That is one of the oldest legal dodges ever used in trial testimony. Oh, and BTW, it’s just about foolproof. It’s the way to get out lying (Perjury) on the stand.

  10. “I think the Donald would also be inclined to go his own way regarding the law and thus also contribute to the breakdown of law, order and society in the good ole US of A!”

    You assume a great deal in this sentence. Please show me proof where Donald Trump has broken the law. Especially federal laws like Hillary Clinton has broken that make her an unindicted felon.

    1. Without rules, can’t you just see now that the house breaks out into a physical brawl? Pretty funny to me.
      But you gotta know that the laws were made by lawyers, who wanted to escape accountability.
      Now that’s “by the people, for the people” don’t ya think?

      Just an aside: I wonder if HRC put harry reid in the bucket of despicable humans? Or does he have his own private hell in a bucket?

  11. Also it is absolutely disgusting that now giving immunity is not a way for the People to GET information about a crime, but instead for conspirators to hide evidence with no recourse for the Justice System or Congress.

  12. Mr. Turley I have really been hoping you would write a definitive article on the laws Hillary Clinton broke: Executive Order 13526. FRA, FOIA and perjury. No criminal intent is required in statutes contrary to what Comey says. But even if you believe criminal intent is necessary, what kind of investigator blindly believes a suspect’s claim that “I didn’t know those records (or money or jewels etc) didn’t belong to me when I took them? Isn’t it up to a jury to decide whether a suspects claim of innocence is true?

    Now we find out even the person the Clintons hired to set up her SoS server HAD NO SECURITY CLEARANCE!? Can’t Congress force her to testify UNDER OATH since the FBI didn’t?

    We have a majority not voting for either “most dishonest/disliked in history” candidate but AGAINST the other. For me at 61 yrs old this is a once in a lifetime chance to break the BIG$ corrupt 2 party stranglehold of lies on our democracy.

    1. Saw last evening on what it takes for a congressional subpoena to actually be ENFORCED.
      It’s the biggest rubbish I have ever heard of. But we all have to remember – WHO MADE THESE LAWS AND PROCEDURES. It was who we elected. SHAME on US.

  13. Hillary and a constitutional crisis! They may be in contempt of congress but it is up to the Department of Justice to enforce the law and it will not do so. I think the Donald would also be inclined to go his own way regarding the law and thus also contribute to the breakdown of law, order and society in the good ole US of A!


  14. It appears that there is no actual penalty for ignoring a congressional subpoena–you know that this DOJ will insulate Clinton and never enforce penalties against Pagliano and the PRN crew. Deplorable Dave

    1. Correct Dave. 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.”

  15. Platte River Networks is in the middle of a s**t storm, thanks to the Clinton’s and Pagliano. They likely were in possession of classified emails, and had NO security clearance. They likely destroyed government documents about 1 week after they were served with a document retention order.
    I can hear the sucking sound of Platte River now. Not only are they radioactive, but they are looking a prison time. Gee, didn’t a representative of PRN say about 1 year ago, that if they had known the Clinton SOS server contained classified emails, they would not have offered a bid for the set up and maintenance of same.
    Bye bye PHN.

    1. Bob,
      “They likely were in possession of classified emails, and had NO security clearance.”

      They do not have appropriate clearances to my understanding, and, if you read the FBI report on the matter, they had access to classified emails. One of the Clinton’s requested that no one else have access to the emails. However, that did not happen because the system admins needed access to troubleshoot problems.

      The IT people may not have snooped (who knows; they are pleading the Fifth), but they certainly could have.

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