FBI’s Probe Of Clinton Email Server Is A ‘Criminal Investigation,’ Judge Says

Chuck Ross | Reporter

The FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server is “criminal” in nature, U.S. District Court judge Emmet Sullivan said in a court filing on Tuesday.

Sullivan was responding to a plea from attorneys for former State Department information technology specialist Bryan Pagliano who asked that details of an immunity deal he made with the FBI to discuss Clinton’s server be kept secret.

“The privacy interests at stake are high because the government’s criminal investigation through which Mr. Pagliano received limited immunity is ongoing and confidential,” Sullivan wrote in the new order.

“In the Court’s opinion, the need for public access to Mr. Pagliano’s agreement with the government is minimal. Mr. Pagliano’s immunity agreement has not previously been disclosed. Mr. Pagliano and the government object to disclosure of the immunity agreement,” the judge added.

Sullivan ordered Pagliano, who was interviewed by the FBI in December, to provide details of the immunity deal earlier this month after his attorneys said that the former Clinton aide would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in a scheduled deposition with the watchdog group Judicial Watch.

That deposition, which is one of eight that the conservative watchdog is conducting for its lawsuit, was postponed indefinitely.

Pagliano’s lawyers filed the immunity agreement under seal, but they did provide new details about the arrangement with the FBI, which is looking into whether classified information was mishandled on Clinton’s server.

The IT worker was granted a “limited” or “use” immunity as opposed to “blanket” immunity. That means that his statements cannot be used against him in any criminal proceeding. Any information obtained by other means could be used in any prosecutorial maneuver.

Sullivan’s statement that the FBI’s investigation is criminal undermines Clinton’s insistence that the probe is a mere “security review.”

Pagliano’s deposition, whenever it is finally held, will be videotaped, Sullivan ordered. Pagliano’s lawyers had asked the judge to prohibit Judicial Watch from recording the deposition. They said that since Pagliano will be pleading the Fifth, there is no reason to record the session. They also expressed concern that Judicial Watch would use the footage to make Pagliano look bad. But Sullivan said that the recording cannot be released publicly.

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