Bryan Pagliano, the technician staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server, is refusing to answer questions during a court deposition scheduled for this coming Monday, and is citing his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
That seems inexplicable, because Clinton has continually asserted that nothing illegal, or even terribly improper, happened when she decided to route all of her official correspondence as Secretary of State, plus that of her top aides, through a private “black box” server with dubious security precautions, and then delete half of those emails before law enforcement could see them. Why is Pagliano or anyone else be worried about self-incrimination for a role in such an innocent affair?
Not only did Pagliano take the Fifth, but his lawyers also asked the judge to prevent the plaintiff in the lawsuit, watchdog group Judicial Watch, from even recording his deposition. In other words, he doesn’t want online video of himself evading testimony by citing the Fifth Amendment, while his old boss is running for President.
Politico reports that Judge Emmet Sullivan already ruled that video of the session would be kept under seal, but Pagliano’s lawyers argued that Judicial Watch could move to unseal the materials, or there could be a data breach that puts them on the Internet despite the Judges order. That is a darkly amusing complaint, considering that Hillary Clinton’s unprotected email server contained many Top Secret documents. Too bad she wasn’t worried about data breaches jeopardizing all the classified stuff she ordered her aides to copy-and-paste from the secure State Department system!
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the judge’s seal should adequately address concerns about possible abuse of the video. “There are always credibility issues that are raised by any assertion of the Fifth Amendment. This video, we believe will be helpful to Judge Sullivan in assessing the witness’ demeanor when asserting the Fifth Amendment and in response to other questions,” he added.
Fitton told CNN that “asserting the Fifth Amendment in a civil procedure like this has its implications,” which “we’re going to have to grapple with as best we can.”
This is not to say that Pagliano has clammed up completely. Fox News reports that after he cut an immunity deal with the Justice Department last fall, he became what a source in the intelligence community described as a “devastating witness.”
However, Fox also notes that Pagliano has repeatedly told congressional committees that he would “invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying against Clinton,” despite both polite requests and congressional subpoenas.
Also, during her deposition in the Judicial Watch suit last week, Clinton aide Cheryl Mills — who had an account on the secret server — “repeatedly objected to questions about Pagliano’s role,” as Fox News puts it. Mills had seven lawyers — not six or five, but seven! — and they all told her not to answer questions about Clinton’s IT tech.
That’s an awful lot of legal firepower to direct against simple questions whose answers are largely self-evident, just to keep them off court documents, especially when there supposedly isn’t the faintest whiff of illegality about Clinton’s actions.