A former Hillary Clinton staffer who helped set up the former secretary of state’s private email server has vowed to invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions after a congressional committee subpoenaed him, MSNBC confirmed late Wednesday.
Bryan Pagliano, who worked for Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign and at the State Department, has been identified in digital records as the person who set up her email server in 2009.
The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is investigating Clinton’s emails, subpoenaed Pagliano last month to testify. But his lawyer said Monday that the IT specialist would refuse to answer questions, asserting his constitutional right against self-incrimination, The Washington Post first reported Wednesday.
“While we understand that Mr. Pagliano’s response to this subpoena may be controversial in the current political environment, we hope that the members of the Select Committee will respect our client’s right,” attorney Mark MacDougall wrote in a letter obtained by MSNBC to Benghazi Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy.
The letter cites the fact the FBI is already investigating the security of Clinton’s email server, and notes that Pagliano had been contacted in the past week by two separate Senate committees also looking into the matter.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican representing Iowa, said in a statement that “Mr. Pagliano’s legal counsel told the committee yesterday that he would plead the 5th to any and all questions if he were compelled to testify.”
A Clinton campaign aide said in a statement to NBC News Wednesday the candidate has encouraged aides to answer any questions.
“We have been confident from the beginning that Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email was allowed and that she did not send or receive anything marked classified, facts confirmed by the State Department and the Inspector General,” the statement said. “She has made every effort to answer questions and be as helpful as possible, and has encouraged her aides, current and former, to do the same, including Bryan Pagliano.”
Clinton is scheduled to testify before the House committee in October, her campaign said. The Republican-led committee is investigating the deaths of four Americans killed in the 2012 attacks in Libya.
Pagliano was IT director for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before serving as special advisor to the Department of State under Clinton from May 2009 through February 2013, according to his LinkedIn page.
“Bryan is an utter professional and a wonderful young man who does not live in the public eye and understandably may not wish to be drawn into a political spectacle,” the Clinton campaign aide went on.
“So his decision is both understandable and yet also disappointing to us, because we believe he has every reason to be transparent about his IT assistance,” the aide said.