A former IT expert who was previously responsible for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE’s private email server answered virtually no questions during a roughly 90-minute deposition as part of an open records lawsuit this week.
Aside from stating his name and saying three times that he understood procedural rules of the sworn-oath interview, Bryan Pagliano declined to say a single word other than to plead his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
“On advice of counsel, I will decline to answer your question in reliance on my rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” he said on 130 occasions, according to a transcript released by conservative organization Judicial Watch on Thursday.
In addition, Pagliano’s lawyers stepped in to object to Judicial Watch’s questions on multiple occasions, calling them outside the scope of the session and preventing him from having to plead the Fifth.
The extensive reliance on the Fifth Amendment, which was first reported by Fox News on Wednesday, was expected; Pagliano’s lawyers had previously notified the court about the IT consultant’s plans.
But it nonetheless could reflect poorly on Clinton, the former secretary of State and presumed Democratic presidential nominee, whom the judge in the case has said could be forced to answer questions herself.
Pagliano’s refusal to talk ensures that key details about her email system remain unsettled and may raise the chances that she is asked to be interviewed herself as part of the case.
Judicial Watch lawyers also questioned Pagliano’s repeated reliance on the Fifth Amendment, wondering out loud at times during the interview how he might be trying to protect himself.
“To raise a Fifth Amendment privilege, there must be a reasonable basis for it, and it must be appropriate, not just for purposes of obstructing the deposition,” Judicial Watch lawyer Ramona Cotco said 20 minutes into the interview.
“We'll reserve [the right] to go back to the court and to compel [answers] if we deem that it is appropriate," she added. "And if the Fifth Amendment — for the court to decide whether the privilege has been properly asserted.”
Pagliano has been granted limited immunity as part of the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Clinton’s email setup and the possibility that classified information was mishandled. In court documents filed ahead of his Wednesday morning deposition, lawyers for him and the federal government refused to outline the terms of the agreement or say how he might be assisting the investigation.
However, lawyers did warn that the limited nature of his deal could leave him open to prosecution for incriminating information he divulged outside of protected sessions.
The federal court ruled last week that Pagliano's immunity deal could remain secret.
Judicial Watch has interviewed multiple former aides of Clinton as part of its lawsuit, which is one of several pending before a federal court in Washington.
Next week, it is expected to conduct the final depositions as part of the case, with longtime deputy Huma Abedin and Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy.