Clinton Ex-Aide Pagliano Won’t Testify in E-Mail-Related Lawsuitby and
Judicial Watch seeks IT consultant’s deposition in paper chase
Pagliano to take Fifth when asked about Clinton e-mail system
Bryan Pagliano, the Hillary Clinton aide who maintained the private e-mail system that has fueled criticism throughout her presidential campaign, will refuse to testify in a lawsuit brought by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Pagliano, who received immunity from federal prosecutors in their probe of Clinton’s use of a non-governmental e-mail account while she was secretary of state, plans to cite his constitutional right not to incriminate himself during a sworn deposition next week.
He “will decline to answer any and all questions that may be put to him,” his lawyers said Wednesday in a court filing.
The deposition is scheduled for Monday, the day before California’s primary and five other contests in which Clinton seeks to cement the Democratic Party’s nomination. Previously a staffer on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, Pagliano later joined her at the State Department. Her 2016 campaign has said she and former President Bill Clinton paid Pagliano privately for the upkeep of their e-mail server.
The Washington-based Judicial Watch is pressing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit first filed in 2013, seeking information related to the overlapping employment of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin at the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and an outside consulting firm.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington last month said the group could engage in limited questioning of Pagliano and at least five other people, two of whom have already been questioned under oath. Clinton could be questioned by the group only if necessary and only with the court’s prior permission, the judge said.
Clinton, who served as the top American diplomat from 2009 to 2013, has called her use of a private e-mail server instead of using only the government’s system a “mistake.” In a report issued last week, the State Department’s inspector general said use of that server violated its rules.
Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s State Department chief of staff, said in a deposition released Tuesday that she didn’t think about how Clinton’s messages would be retained when she was corresponding with people outside the government.
Pagliano’s lawyers are asking Sullivan to bar the watchdog group from videotaping their client as he asserts his right not to testify, citing its potential for misuse or abuse.
Judicial Watch responded that the judge may want to see a video of Pagliano.
“There are credibility issues that are raised by any assertion of the Fifth Amendment,” Tom Fitton, the group’s president, said in a phone interview. “We would not be asking for his testimony if we did not think he would be helpful to the court’s inquiry.”
Pagliano previously asserted his right against self-incrimination when called to testify by the House Benghazi Committee, which helped uncover Clinton’s use of private e-mail while investigating the 2012 terrorist attack that killed the U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Judicial Watch is seeking Clinton’s testimony in a separate case before a different judge, tied to the Benghazi incident.
The case is Judicial Watch Inc. v. U.S. Department of State, 13-cv-01363, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington)