Feds warn against releasing Clinton aide’s immunity deal

Feds warn against releasing Clinton aide’s immunity deal
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The Justice Department is pushing to keep the terms of an immunity agreement with a former IT aide to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Top federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  MORE under seal, warning that release of the documents could undermine its ongoing investigation connected to Clinton's private email server. 

Releasing the agreements reached with former State Department contractor Bryan Pagliano “could prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation,” the Justice Department said in its Friday filing. “Therefore, if this court determines that it has a need to review the agreements, the United States respectfully requests that the court exercise its inherent discretion to receive the agreements ex parte and under seal.”

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The Justice Department has refused to detail the scope of the immunity deal reached with Pagliano as part of its investigation related to Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email and server throughout her time as secretary of State. Pagliano is believed to have set up and maintained the server in the basement of Clinton’s New York home. 

Lawyers for Pagliano discussed the deal for the first time earlier this week, revealing that he had been granted limited “use” and “derivative use” immunity, as opposed to blanket protection from prosecution. Those terms mean that he could still face charges based on statements he makes outside of his interviews with the FBI.

Pagliano's lawyers have likewise asked a federal judge to keep the terms of the agreement secret. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had ordered Pagliano to hand over the immunity deal as part of justification of his plan to plead the Fifth Amendment in a deposition about Clinton’s email server. The deposition, part of a lawsuit brought by conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, was originally scheduled for last Friday but has since been postponed until further notice.

Judicial Watch, which launched the lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, is fighting with Pagliano’s lawyers over the agreement and other details of the deposition.

In a filing on Friday, Judicial Watch said that Pagliano’s efforts to keep his deposition from being videotaped were “unfounded,” and it opposed the move to keep his immunity deals secret. 

"Like all other filings in this case as well as the transcripts of the depositions, Mr. Pagliano’s immunity agreements should be publicly available,” it said. 

The move also “prevents plaintiff from tailoring its questions in an effort to limit Mr. Pagliano’s need to invoke the Fifth Amendment,” the group added.