Hillary Clinton Staffer Pushed to Accept Immunity to Testify on Private Server

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton / AP
September 9, 2015

Two Senate committee chairmen authored a letter to a former Hillary Clinton aide pushing him to accept limited immunity in order to testify before Congress on the set-up of the former secretary of state’s private server.

First reported by McClatchy, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sent the letter to ex-State Department computer staffer Brian Pagliano and his lawyer Friday emphasizing the possibility of an "immunity order."

In response to a subpoena from the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Pagliano’s attorney Mark MacDougall told the committee early last week that Pagliano plans to assert his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying on Clinton’s email system. Pagliano, who also worked on Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, set up Clinton’s personal server in 2009.

MacDougall likewise told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Pagliano would plead the Fifth.

However, in the letter sent to Pagliano last week, Grassley and Johnson said that the Senate committees have the "authority" to get the ex-Clinton staffer limited immunity so that he can provide them with information regarding Clinton’s email while allowing him to maintain his constitutional rights.

"The committees ... need the unique information you likely have in order to exercise their oversight functions under the Constitution, which are unrelated to any potential prosecution or criminal inquiry," Grassley and Johnson wrote. "Thus, the committees have the authority to obtain an immunity order, to acquire the information they need, while also protecting your right against self-incrimination."

The Republican senators requested that Pagliano direct his lawyers to meet confidentially with committee aides in order to determine the best course of action.

"We ask that your attorneys meet with the committees’ staff to explore how to obtain the unique information you possess while respecting your constitutional rights, such as the possibility of a proffer session so that we can better understand what your testimony would be without any waiver of your rights," they wrote.

Grassley and Johnson demanded a response from Pagliano no later than Thursday, Sept. 10.

Clinton has endured increased scrutiny for her exclusive use of a personal email system while at the State Department. The FBI is currently investigating the security of her email server after the inspector general of the intelligence community determined that two emails held on the system contain top secret information that was classified at the time they were sent.

While the Clinton campaign has disputed the findings of I. Charles McCullough III, a special review by the CIA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency recently confirmed that the two emails do indeed contain information with the highest level of classification.

Clinton has repeatedly said that she never sent or received information marked classified on her personal email.