Clinton IT aide looks to keep immunity deal secret

Clinton IT aide looks to keep immunity deal secret
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A former IT aide responsible for Hillary Clinton’s private email server is trying to keep the details of his immunity agreement with the FBI secret, and his lawyers warned on Tuesday that his knowledge of the setup could expose him to criminal charges stemming from other investigations into the server.

A federal judge on Friday ordered Bryan Pagliano to hand over a copy of the deal that he had reportedly reached with federal officials, as part of a memorandum outlining his legal authority to refuse to answer questions under the Fifth Amendment in an open records lawsuit connected to Clinton’s emails.  

On Tuesday, Pagliano filed sealed copies of two separate immunity agreements, along with a request asking the judge to keep them sealed.

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Pagliano’s lawyers defended his right to plead the Fifth, saying the immunity agreements would protect him only from risk of criminal prosecution based on his testimony in the FBI’s investigation — not what he says in the separate open records case, filed by conservative organization Judicial Watch.

“The potential for self-incrimination here is sufficient to justify Mr. Pagliano’s intention to assert his Fifth Amendment rights,” his lawyers wrote in the memorandum.

Pagliano was granted limited “use” and “derivative use” immunity, the lawyers noted, covering only the federal investigation into whether classified information was mishandled through the use of Clinton’s private server. The agreements do not provide blanket protection from criminal prosecution.

“The DOJ has not authorized a grant of immunity for Mr. Pagliano in connection with any other matter, including this civil case,” his lawyers said. 

His comments in Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit “could fall within the scope of an ongoing (or possible future) criminal investigation” about the use of Clinton’s personal email server for official government business, or a related matter, they added.

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“Indeed, the mere fact that the government was willing to offer Pagliano ‘use’ immunity here in exchange for his testimony indicates that his fear of prosecution is more than fanciful or speculative,” the lawyers wrote.

Pagliano was originally scheduled to be deposed in the open records lawsuit last Friday, but the interview was postponed until further notice days after his lawyers notified the court he would be asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. His silence could have reflected poorly on Clinton and might have increased the odds that she will be forced to be deposed in the case.

Judicial Watch has sued the State Department over Clinton’s emails, alleging that the former secretary of State’s bespoke email setup thwarted federal transparency laws.