Two Republican senators are pressing the Justice Department to find out whether it has opened criminal investigations into Bryan Pagliano, the former State Department IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
In a joint letter sent Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee chairman Ron Johnson also asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch whether Pagliano would waive his Fifth Amendment rights if he granted an interview to either committee to discuss his work on Clinton’s behalf.
Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before taking the job at State, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a brief interview with the House Select Committee on Benghazi last week.
Pagliano’s attorney, Mark MacDougall, has also indicated that his client would plead the Fifth if called to testify before the Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees.
The Clinton campaign has said that the Clintons paid Pagliano out of their own pockets to set up and manage the homebrew email system. They paid him $5,000 before he took the job at the State Department in May 2009.
It is unclear how much the Clintons paid Pagliano, but he reportedly did not report the additional income, in possible violation of federal regulations.
Pagliano served as a senior advisor and deputy chief information officer at the State Department until he left the agency in Feb. 2013, the same month Clinton left.
Grassley and Johnson have considered granting Pagliano immunity in order to gain information about his work on Clinton’s email arrangement. To determine whether immunity is warranted, they have floated the idea of holding an informal interview known as a proffer session. But MacDougall rejected the idea, telling the senators that it “may create a risk that [Pagliano] will later be deemed to have waived his constitutional protections.”
To find out if that would be the case, Grassley and Johnson asked Lynch whether if Pagliano granted the proffer to the committees he would then waive his Fifth Amendment rights regarding any potential Justice Department investigation.
Whether the Justice Department would honor the committees’ arrangement may hinge on whether it is conducting its own investigation into Pagliano.
Grassley and Johnson asked Lynch whether the FBI or any other component of the Justice Department have an open criminal investigation relating to Clinton’s email server and, if so, if Pagliano is a subject of the investigation. They also asked whether the Justice Department is investigation Pagliano’s employment arrangement with the Clintons and the State Department.