Hmmm. There’s certainly a lot of secrecy surrounding everything to do with Hillary Clinton’s various scandal investigations these days. Just yesterday Ed talked about the the FBI’s secret declarations in response to some requests from Judicial Watch. Now we find out that the brains behind the original installation of Clinton’s secret bathroom email server, Bryan Pagliano, has responded to a judge’s request to provide details of the immunity deal offered to him by the FBI. But he wants those documents to remain hidden from the public eye as well. (Yahoo News)
The former aide to Hillary Clinton who set up her private email server confirmed in a court filing Tuesday that the Justice Department had granted him limited immunity from prosecution, but filed copies of the deal under seal and asked a judge to keep them out of public view.
The filing from Bryan Pagliano came in response to a judge’s directive to disclose details of the immunity agreement, which Pagliano said he entered into after cooperating in December with the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into Clinton’s server.
Though Pagliano has spoken with the Justice Department, he has invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions from Congress and reiterated Tuesday that he would not give testimony in an ongoing lawsuit brought by conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch.
“The DOJ has not authorized a grant of immunity for Mr. Pagliano in connection with any other matter, including this civil case,” Pagliano’s attorneys wrote in a court filing.
A few questions have now been answered, but they bring up several others at the same time. It had been widely reported that Pagliano had received an immunity deal from the FBI as part of their ongoing investigation into the server, but details were sparse. Still, with immunity in hand, how and why would the witness continue to assert his Fifth Amendment rights during questioning by Congress and under deposition in the Judicial Watch suit? Now we know the answer to that portion of it. The IT guru was only offered limited “use” and “derivative use” immunity in the case. In other words, any testimony he offered to the FBI as part of their investigation could not be used against him in any later court case, but it was not any sort of full, blanket immunity exempting him from prosecution of any kind. He could, in theory, still be charged, but prosecutors would have to rely on other evidence against him not stemming from his own testimony and admissions.
What remains unknown here is why Pagliano’s immunity deal needs to be kept secret. What could be spelled out in there beyond the subjects which the FBI wanted to ask him about? It’s not as if we couldn’t list most of them already, at least in general terms. Clearly he wouldn’t be expected to reveal any sensitive national security information which he may have come across in the course of his work, but that’s not really relevant to the inquiry beyond the fact that such data existed on the server. And the State Department has already confirmed that for us in excruciating detail for the numbers of documents at various levels of security which they could not release. So what else is hiding in Bryan’s immunity offer which would either be of interest to the public in terms of the investigation into Clinton’s email affairs or might place him in further jeopardy later in the process?
As things stand now, nothing much has changed. Pagliano will not be answering any questions and we aren’t learning any more about what went on between him and the FBI. In fact, unless and until James Comey completes his work and turns his findings over to the Department of Justice, we’re stuck in a holding pattern. But that can’t possibly remain stagnant until after the election… can it?