Hillary Clinton’s IT staffer who set up her private email server has been granted limited immunity by the Justice Department in order to allow him to speak to federal prosecutors without incriminating himself. Prior to the limited immunity agreement, Clinton staffer Bryan Pagliano had invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by refusing to answer questions before Trey Gowdy’s committee, as well as a civil case filed by Judicial Watch, who subpoenaed Pagliano to give sworn testimony in a lawsuit probing whether Clinton’s email arrangement thwarted the Freedom of Information Act and the release of public records.
The Washington Post reveals that Bryan Pagliano, the staffer who setup Hillary Clinton’s email server in the basement of her New York home, has been granted limited immunity in the Justice Department investigation into the server. The immunity was given after Pagliano refused to speak about the server by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment states that a citizen shall not be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In other words, a person being questioned about a crime does not have to answer any questions that may implicate him in a crime without first being brought to trial for said crime.
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With Pagliano pleading the fifth, it appears that the IT staffer believes if he tells the truth he will be implicating himself in a possible crime. Therefore, before speaking to prosecutors in the case, Pagliano wanted to ensure that his words wouldn’t later be used against him in a criminal case. With the Clinton staffer refusing to speak, the Justice Department has agreed to offer Pagliano “limited immunity” which allows him to freely speak without worrying about his words later being used against him at trial.
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However, it was noted that Pagliano was not given blanket immunity. Essentially, the Clinton staffer may not be prosecuted using information he provides to investigators, but he could still be prosecuted with information obtained individually.
“The agreements do not give Pagliano blanket immunity in what The Washington Post reported in March was part of an ongoing FBI criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information related to Clinton’s email setup while she was secretary from 2009 to 2013. Instead, such deals typically prohibit prosecutors from using evidence against a witness developed from his own testimony — but not evidence obtained independently.”
Following the granting of immunity, the conservative group Judicial Watch has requested that the details of the agreement be released to the public as part of the Freedom of Information Act. The judge in the civil case agreed and asked the Justice Department to submit a copy of the immunity agreement for consideration in the case as Pagliano had detailed he would plead the fifth in the civil case. Therefore, the judge wanted to see the agreement to determine if the plea was valid and to help the prosecutor fashion questions that would be suitable for trial without self-incrimination. However, the Justice Department has declined noting it “could prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation.”
Though Hillary Clinton’s campaign has denied that she is being criminally investigated, the Justice Department’s statement reveals that Pagliano’s immunity agreements “relate to an ongoing law enforcement investigation, and their contents have not been disclosed previously on the public record.” Therefore, it seems that Clinton’s email server is being investigated by “law enforcement” which indicates a crime is suspected.
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The Justice Department’s notion that the release of the agreement could “prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation” also indicates that there is more to the Clinton email server investigation than previously revealed. With Pagliano feeling the need to invoke the fifth, the Justice Department calling it a “law enforcement investigation” and the idea of “prematurely revealing the scope” of the investigation as a potential issue, does this indicate that Hillary Clinton is actually being investigated on criminal charges or could it simply mean that there are individuals on her staff that are about to go down for her? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
[Image by Cliff Owen/ AP Photo]