Hillary Clinton aide Bryan Pagliano’s attorney said last week that his client would not cooperate with the FBI and would exercise his Fifth Amendment rights. What does he have to hide?
In fact, he may have already hidden information that will get him into a pile of legal trouble if he admits it.
It was revealed today by the Washington Post that Pagliano was paid to run Hillary’s private server — out of Hillary Clinton’s own pocket. She paid Pagliano an initial sum of $5,000 to set up the server. Pagliano dutifully reported the sum on his financial disclosure form in 2008.
But campaign officials now tell the WaPo that Clinton continued to pay Pagliano to maintain the server until Hillary left the State Department in 2013. The paper could find no record of Pagliano reporting any income from Clinton on his disclosure forms during the intervening years, and the State Department says they had “found no evidence” of Pagliano earning outside income.
Filing a false financial disclosure form is a felony — reason enough for Pagliano to plead the 5th.
Pagliano’s attorney, Mark MacDougall, declined to comment.
MacDougall sent a letter Monday to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which had subpoenaed Pagliano, informing the panel that his client would invoke his constitutional rights not to answer questions.
There are multiple congressional inquiries into Clinton’s e-mail use, and the FBI is looking into the security of the setup.
A spokeswoman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was inquiring about Pagliano’s outside employment, said that Pagliano’s lawyer informed the committee that his client would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights.
Lawmakers interested in hearing Pagliano’s account of the server’s setup and security protocols are considering whether to offer him immunity in exchange for his testimony. If they take the step, Pagliano would be compelled to appear.
State Department officials have declined to explain which agency officials knew about Clinton’s server and whether any had raised questions or concerns about how it was being handled.
“My unsatisfactory but necessary answer to that is, again, that’s not our role in this process to really answer that question publicly; that there are reviews and investigations underway that will look at possibly some of these issues is for other entities to speak to,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters this week.
Asked by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday whether anyone in her inner circle ever expressed concern about the setup, Clinton responded, “I was not thinking a lot when I got in.”
“There was so much work to be done,” Clinton continued. “We had so many problems around the world. I didn’t really stop and think — what — what kind of e-mail system will there be?”
E-mails released this week show that members of the State Department IT department’s help desk were unaware of the setup and sought information about why a correspondent was getting a “fatal error” when sending messages to Clinton’s address. The tech support team “didn’t know it was you,” an aide e-mailed Clinton.
Federal regulations allow employees at Pagliano’s level to have outside employment but require that the extra income not exceed 15 percent of their government salary. Employees must also ensure that their outside work not create a conflict of interest with their government job.
Another possible area of criminal exposure for Pagliano is that he wasn’t cleared to have access to classified information. If true, by granting him access, Hillary Clinton may be criminally liable as well.
Pagliano was an IT expert employed by the State Department. One can imagine several areas of overlap that would represent a conflict of interest.
In short, Mr. Pagliano is in deep trouble with the law and if the Clinton machine is looking for a fall guy, he would seem to fit the bill perfectly.
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