Gee … does the Department of Justice offer immunity to potential witnesses for routine “security reviews”? Bryan Pagliano, who declared his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when the FBI sought to question him about Hillary Clinton’s secret e-mail server, will have to start talking soon, thanks to the DoJ’s decision to protect him from potential prosecution in exchange for his testimony:
The Justice Department has granted immunity to the former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private email server as part of a criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information, according to a senior law enforcement official.
The official said the FBI had secured the cooperation of Bryan Pagliano who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009.
As the FBI looks to wrap up its investigation in the coming months, agents will likely want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails, current and former officials said.
Ahem. The DoJ does not offer immunity to “wrap up” an investigation. If the investigation needs to be “wrapped up,” at least as in closing it down, grants of immunity simply aren’t necessary. After all, there’s no need to protect a recalcitrant witness from prosecution when no prosecution is being planned or considered. Without a case to make on someone else, why bother offering immunity at all? They could just ignore Pagliano much more easily.
A grant of immunity tells us a couple of interesting things about this probe. First, the DoJ appears to have more than a passing interest in whatever the FBI has found so far. Second, this is no “security review,” but a case in which criminal charges appear to be under consideration. Third, Pagliano has some kind of interesting information to give to the DoJ, or otherwise they wouldn’t bother with immunity at all. Fourth, that information involves bigger targets than Pagliano himself.
As Jonathan Turley says …
DOJ does not give immunity without something valuable from a potential target like Bryan Pagliano. The situation just got more precarious.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) March 3, 2016
It’s the fourth point that should intrigue observers. What can Pagliano know that interests not just the FBI, but also the DoJ? He didn’t have anything to do with how underlings like Jake Sullivan, Huma Abedin, and Cheryl Mills used classified information or even how they would have converted it to the nonsecure system. Pagliano’s job was just maintaining the server itself — at Hillary Clinton’s behest. That would seem to indicate that the probe isn’t just looking at the peripheral issues of how information jumped from secure systems to Hillary’s server, but how and why Hillary’s server came into existence in the first place — and how and why it was kept secret from the State Department for four years. That has always been the core of the scandal, and Pagliano’s immunity grant suggests that it might be the central point of the investigation by now.
Democrats might want to start warming up Biden in the bullpen … or rethinking Bernie. And this might help kickstart that process:
— Rick Klein (@rickklein) March 3, 2016