The man believed to have set up and maintained the private server in the basement of then-Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton targets Trump in speech, urging supporters to 'resist, insist, persist, enlist' Clinton defends April Ryan, Rep. Maxine Waters in speech Lobbying world MORE’s New York home invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination more than 125 times during a deposition as part of a civil court case on Wednesday.
Fox News reported that Bryan Pagliano’s sworn testimony with conservative organization Judicial Watch lasted roughly 90 minutes, during which the IT expert repeatedly read a carefully worded statement off of an index card while refusing to answer questions.
The IT official could have provided important information in the case, which might have resolved lingering questions about the state of Clinton’s private server, how information was preserved and the security protocols used to protect her data.
But he declined to answer questions, his lawyers said, in part due to the federal government’s decision to grant him limited immunity as part of its ongoing criminal probe related to the server and the possibility that classified information was mishandled.
After a back-and-forth between the two legal teams, Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled this month that the details of that immunity deal could remain secret.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the “astounding” number of times Pagliano pled the Fifth “is another reminder of how much she has to hide and how serious the FBI’s criminal investigation really is.”
“Clinton’s extraordinarily reckless conduct and dishonest attempts to avoid accountability do not fit the profile of someone worthy of the highest office in the land,” Priebus added in a statement. “Clinton’s actions in this case alone are disqualifying and her aide’s stonewalling today is just a prelude to the kind of White House she would run.”
Despite his resistance to giving up any possible incriminating information, Pagliano’s appearance in the deposition with Judicial Watch might reflect poorly on Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
Unlike in criminal cases, judges in civil suits are allowed to draw inferences from a witness’s decision not to answer questions, potentially increasing the likelihood that Clinton herself is asked to testify as part of the Judicial Watch lawsuit. Clinton’s campaign would surely vigorously oppose any request for her to appear, and the event could dramatically shake up the presidential race.
Judicial Watch has filed multiple open records lawsuits related to Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account and server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat. Depositions have been granted in two of those cases, and the decision in a third was this week put on hold pending the outcomes of those two other cases.
Two other former aides are scheduled to be interviewed before the end of the month: longtime deputy Huma Abedin and Patrick Kennedy, former undersecretary for management.
- Updated at 4:53 p.m.