Hillary Clinton’s personal IT worker invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a closed-door interview with the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday because he’s concerned about getting ensnared in an “anti-Clinton frenzy.”
Bryan Pagliano’s decision to plead the fifth came as no surprise. His attorney informed the Benghazi Committee last week that his client would not testify about his work on Clinton’s private email server.
Bryan Pagliano has arrived for his deposition before House Benghazi Cmte where he is expected to plead the fifth pic.twitter.com/VSxxYJUKQe
— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) September 10, 2015
Maryland U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Benghazi Committee, confirmed Pagliano’s decision to plead the fifth, saying that the IT worker “knows nothing about Benghazi.”
He also claimed that Pagliano avoided testifying for fear of getting caught up in “anti-Clinton frenzy.”
Mr. Pagliano knows nothing about Benghazi. He is exercising his rights because he is afraid he will get caught up in anti-Clinton frenzy.
— Benghazi Democrats (@BenghaziDems) September 10, 2015
Pagliano, who left Thursday’s meeting 20 minutes after he arrived, worked as the IT director on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He took a job at the State Department in May 2009, several months after Clinton took office. He left his job at the agency in Feb. 2013, the same month as Clinton.
Clinton has said that she and her family paid Pagliano out of their own pockets — and not out of State Department funds — to set up and manage the private email system operated out of her Chappaqua, N.Y. home.
Clinton’s email server, which was handed over to a Denver-based IT company in June 2013, was seized by the FBI last month after the Intelligence Community inspector general discovered that two “top secret” emails had traversed the hardware.
Clinton and her attorney have said that the server was wiped clean of all of her emails. The Democratic presidential candidate has not said if, when, and why she instructed her staff to scrub the device. The curious move has created speculation that Clinton is trying to hide correspondence that could harm her presidential bid.
Benghazi Committee chairman Trey Gowdy’s decision to call Pagliano to testify led to criticism from Democratic committee members.
Before Pagliano invoked the fifth, Cummings accused Gowdy of “forcing witnesses to appear in person to assert their Fifth Amendment rights just for a photo-op.”
“Mr. Pagliano’s testimony has nothing to do with the Benghazi attacks and everything to do with Republicans’ insatiable desire to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential bid,” Cummings asserted.
Gowdy shot back at Cummings on Thursday, saying in a Fox News interview before Pagliano’s appearance that “it’s hard for every single sentence in a statement to be inaccurate but Mr. Cummings managed to pull it off.”
“We have to talk to Mr. Pagliano. We have to make sure the record’s complete,” Gowdy said, adding that he hoped to compare Pagliano’s testimony to that of over Clinton aides.
Clinton herself will testify publicly before the committee on Oct. 22.
Pagliano may still tell of his involvement in the Clinton email arrangement. Two Senate Committees have floated the idea of offering him immunity in exchange for his testimony.