Hillary Clinton staffer takes the Fifth

bryan-at-party

Slowly, but surely, the net encircling the Clinton Crime Family is being drawn tight. Yesterday, the Washington Post agreed with most of America: Hillary is lying about the scope of her transmission of classified information on he decidedly non-classified email server. Word has seeped out of State that Hillary’s inner circle pressured (successfully it seems) State IT personnel to be allowed to transmit classified information on smartphones and tablets that were not designed for that purpose. State Department FOIA staff, apparently stung at the massive amount of secret information appearing in Hillary’s emails, have started using the FOIA exemption for “deliberative process” to redact classified information in order to reduce the amount of classified documents identified to the public.

Now the first real crack is appearing. Someone subpoenaed by [mc_name name=’Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000566′ ] has taken the Fifth.

The former Hillary Clinton staffer who oversaw her private email server plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to answer incriminating questions before the House Benghazi Committee, according to a letter his lawyer sent the panel.

The panel on Aug. 11 subpoenaed Bryan Pagliano, the go-to technology fixer for Clinton’s home-made server, to testify privately next Thursday about what he knew of the former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic front-runner’s email arrangement. The panel also asked for all his documents about the email arrangement.

But in a letter to the committee, his lawyer said he’d take the Fifth to refuse to answer self-incriminating questions, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO. He also is refusing to turn over documents, citing the ongoing FBI investigation.

Pagliano is an interesting case. Rarely are political appointees brought into technical areas of an agency. Their role is supposed to be ensuring that the administration’s policies are being implemented. Not Pagliano. He was inserted into State’s IT operation.

More significantly, along with the new server came a technical specialist, Bryan Pagliano, pictured, who had worked as Clinton’s campaign’s IT director. According to federal campaign finance records, Pagliano was paid by Clinton’s Senate leadership PAC through April 2009. The next month, he went to work for the State Department as an IT specialist.

The people briefed on the server indicated that Pagliano continued to act as the lead specialist responsible for Clinton’s personal server even while he was employed by the Department of State. The e-mail system was not always reliable, these people said, with Pagliano summoned at various times to fix problems. Notably, the system crashed for days after New York was hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, while Hillary Clinton was still secretary of state. It is unclear what email system the secretary used to conduct the nation’s diplomatic business with during that period.

He lists his political-appointee position as “Serve as strategic advisor and special projects manager to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) / Deputy Chief Information Officer (DCIO) overseeing the operations of the Information Resource Management (IRM) bureau.” Working at such a high level inside State’s IT structure assures that State’s most senior information officers knew about Clinton’s email setup, and apparently did not or were not able to stop it.

This poses an additional ethics problem for Clinton. Pagliano’s primary job was to operate her email server which she claims is her personal server. The impropriety of having a highly paid federal employee working on Clinton’s private server is materially no different that having him mow her grass or clean her pool. She was using federal staff for personal advantage.

From the letter by Pagliano’s lawyer we can safely say that the Clinton spin that the FBI’s probe is not criminal is ‘inoperative’ (to quote another politician in similar straits). If the FBI is just looking around to help out, there is no reason for a lawyer or to take the Fifth.

None of this of course means Pagliano is guilty. It just means he did it and is smart enough not to admit anything.

The next move is [mc_name name=’Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000566′ ]’s. He can simply not call Pagliano. He can call him for the spectacle of having him plead the Fifth to a series of questions. Or he can ask a court to compel Pagliano’s testimony in exchange for immunity. This all depends upon how important Gowdy thinks he is and whether he cares about any FBI investigation of Pagliano. As the Ollie North case proved, once immunity is granted and a witness “takes a bath” and divulges every possible violation of the law it becomes impossible to prosecute.