Bryan Pagliano, a former State Department computer staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s private server in 2009, has been granted immunity by the Justice Department as part of a criminal investigation into whether classified material was mishandled on the former secretary of state’s unsecured email system.
The Washington Post, citing a senior law enforcement official, reported that Pagliano, who previously invoked his Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before Congress about Clinton’s server, is now cooperating with the FBI in its investigation.
Pagliano worked on Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign and went on to work in the State Department’s information technology department during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The staffer set up Clinton’s server in her home in Chappaqua, New York, in 2009.
Last September, Pagliano pled the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying before the Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi after receiving a subpoena from Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), the committee’s chair. Two leading Republican senators looking into the email issue encouraged Pagliano to testify, offering the prospect of limited immunity.
As it winds down its probe into Clinton’s email setup, the FBI will likely move to interview Clinton and her former aides about the private server, its setup, and whether any of the parties who used the private system knew that messages contained classified information, the Post also reported.
Critics have argued that Clinton’s decision to use an unsecured email server to conduct sensitive government business endangered national security. Clinton has repeatedly defended herself by saying that she never sent nor received information marked classified on her personal email.
The State Department has been periodically releasing Clinton’s work-related emails to the public under federal court order. In one of the 2012 messages released earlier this week, Clinton checked with staffers about whether an email contained classified information, indicating that she knew emails not marked classified could still contain classified material.
The State Department was forced to withhold 22 emails from release in January because they contain top secret information. In sum, over 2,000 Clinton emails have been upgraded to classified, though the agency has said that the emails were not marked classified when they originated on Clinton’s server.
The new revelations about the FBI investigation come just days after Super Tuesday, when Clinton saw major victories in seven states in her campaign to capture the Democratic nomination for president.
Clinton’s campaign has minimized the FBI probe as a "security review" and suggested that the controversy surrounding her private email is a product of a partisan attempt to thwart her presidential ambitions.
A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign indicated that the campaign is "pleased" that Pagliano is now cooperating with the FBI.
"As we have said since last summer, Secretary Clinton has been cooperating with the Department of Justice’s security inquiry, including offering in August to meet with them to assist their efforts if needed," Brian Fallon, the spokesman, said.
If the FBI ultimately recommends an indictment in the investigation, the decision will fall to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on whether to prosecute.