WaPo: Clinton personally paid State Dept employee to maintain private server

The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman and Carol Leonnig may have unraveled one mystery of Bryan Pagliano’s refusal to cooperate in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. It may, however, create new mysteries for the State Department and Hillary herself. The then-Secretary of State personally paid her former campaign tech worker to set up and maintain the e-mail system at her house in Chappaqua — and Pagliano never disclosed the income to State:

Hillary Rodham Clinton and her family personally paid a State Department staffer to maintain the private e-mail server she used while heading the agency, according to an official from Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The unusual arrangement helped Clinton retain personal control over the system that she used for her public and private duties and that has emerged as an issue for her campaign. But, according to the campaign official, it also ensured that taxpayer dollars were not spent on a private server that was shared by Clinton, her husband and their daughter as well as aides to the former president.

Helderman and Leonnig point out that this was a pattern with Hillary Clinton. Congress has begun a probe into a waiver granted to Huma Abedin to work at Teneo, a firm connected politically to the Clintons, and Abedin has also worked for the Clinton Foundation and for the Clintons directly, although apparently not simultaneously. So too has Cheryl Mills, Hillary’s chief of staff, who just spent nine hours testifying before the Benghazi select committee.

Pagliano has a potential legal problem in this arrangement. He disclosed his income from the 2008 Hillary presidential campaign when State hired Pagliano as an IT specialist, but he kept getting paid by Hillary and never notified State:

But even after arriving at State in May 2009, Pagliano continued to be paid by the Clintons to maintain the server, which was in their Chappaqua, N.Y., home, according to the campaign official and another person familiar with the arrangement. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter is under investigation. …

Pagliano did not list the outside income in the required personal financial disclosures he filed each year. The State Department has said Pagliano concluded his full-time service in February 2013, which coincides with Clinton’s departure as secretary. He remains a State Department contractor doing work on “mobile and remote computing functions,” according to a State Department spokesman.

This may answer the mystery of why Pagliano won’t cooperate — he may be in serious legal trouble with this failure to disclose outside income while a cleared employee of the federal government — but it also creates at least two new mysteries. First, why would Hillary pay Pagliano extra income to maintain the e-mail system on which she conducted official business after getting Pagliano a job where he was already getting paid to maintain computer systems for State? And why would he not disclose that income to State? On its face, it looks like a plan to keep knowledge of the e-mail server from the State Department, and therefore prevent State from disclosing its existence in court (in multiple FOIA cases) and to Congress. It worked; it wasn’t until the Benghazi select committee began digging into the communications at State that the private e-mail system was discovered, a year and a half after Hillary left office.

The second mystery: why did this leak now? Helderman and Leonnig identify the source as an official on Team Hillary. It could be someone who’s disgruntled about the campaign, or it might be someone on the campaign looking to shift the focus off of Hillary for a while. She hired Bryan in good faith, they may now argue, and had no idea he didn’t disclose the income or get approvals from State for working on it. That doesn’t hold up, either, mainly because it ignores the fact that Hillary was in charge at State for four years and could have engaged them at any time to work on the server for her — or more likely, get told to shut it down and use a secure system instead.

If they’re looking for a fall guy, that says something about how they view this investigation now. They may want to be careful about it, though, because at some point prosecutors may offer Pagliano immunity on the disclosure violations … and he may take it.