FBI stuck in yet another political controversy
Clinton IT aide to plead Fifth in email case
The man believed to have set up and maintained Hillary Clinton's private email server will assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refuse to answer questions as part of an open records lawsuit against the State Department.
Bryan Pagliano will decline to answer questions from Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group, during a deposition scheduled for Monday, his lawyers wrote in a court filing on Wednesday afternoon.
The move forecloses the possibility that Pagliano would break his months of silence about the server issue, even as scrutiny has intensified on his role.
Pagliano's lawyers told Judicial Watch more than a week ago that he would not be answering any questions, they claimed in their filing on Wednesday, and asked that it drop its subpoena. The organization refused.
In the filing, Pagliano's lawyers tried to have a federal judge block Judicial Watch from recording his deposition, given his planned refusal to answer questions. The lawyers said that a written transcription of the proceedings should be enough to satisfy the public's interest.
"Given the constitutional implications, the absence of any proper purpose for video recording the deposition, and the considerable risk of abuse, the court should preclude Judicial Watch ... from creating an audiovisual recording of Mr. Pagliano's deposition," they wrote.
Videotaped depositions "pose a serious danger to deponents invoking the Fifth Amendment," the lawyers added, pointing to past court decisions warning that the video makes a good "soundbite."
According to the filing, Judicial Watch said it would oppose any such motion.
Questions about Pagliano's role in Clinton's email arrangement ramped up after he accepted a deal for immunity from the federal government as part of his cooperation with the FBI's ongoing investigation into Clinton's setup.
Yet very little is known about Pagliano and how he maintained the server at Clinton's New York home.
The IT expert has previously refused to answer questions on Capitol Hill, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights before the House Select Committee on Benghazi and rejecting requests from leaders of the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security committees to answer their questions.
Last month, the State Department said that it had lost the backup archive of Pagliano's emails from his time at the department. However, it had been able to cobble together some emails through the accounts of other officials.
Last month, a federal judge gave Judicial Watch the go-ahead to ask Pagliano questions under oath as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit connected to Clinton's emails, alongside top Clinton aides such as Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin.
Mills answered questions for roughly seven hours last Friday, during which she claimed never to have seen Pagliano interacting with Clinton or her senior aides.