You think? CNN’s Elise Labott noted yesterday that Bryan Pagliano’s decision to plead the Fifth rather than testify before Congress — and even, as it turns out, cooperating with the FBI — makes it appear that the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign aide that set up her secret server is afraid of criminal charges in the scandal. Team Hillary says it urged everyone to cooperate with investigators and profess to be mystified as to why anyone would worry about an indictment, but that spin isn’t selling:
Michael Isikoff first reported on Pagliano’s refusal to cooperate with any part of the probe. It also sets up a potential indicator of just how serious this investigation will get. The one way around a Fifth Amendment claim is immunity, which would mean that “extremely serious” FBI investigators will have convinced Department of Justice prosecutors to get “extremely serious,” too:
The former aide to Hillary Clinton who helped set up and maintain her private email server has declined to talk to the FBI and the State Department inspector general’s office, as well as a congressional committee, invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, sources familiar with the investigation confirmed to Yahoo News.The move by Bryan Pagliano, who served on Clinton’s 2008 campaign and later as a technology officer in the State Department, to decline to cooperate in two federal probes considerably raises the stakes in the Clinton email investigation, the sources said. It confronts the Justice Department with a decision about whether to grant him immunity in exchange for his testimony — a move that could be taken only were the department to escalate the probe into a full-scale criminal investigation, the sources said.
Former federal prosecutor Joseph DiGenova tells McClatchy that this may force the DoJ into empaneling a grand jury, a move with dire political and legal consequences for Hillary Clinton and her aides:
One former Republican U.S. attorney predicted Thursday that the development will compel the Justice Department to set aside the FBI’s limited inquiry into whether Clinton’s emails breached national security, empanel a federal grand jury and conduct a criminal investigation.“Obviously, if he’s not going to cooperate, all of these people who were on her email are all going to get subpoenas now,” Joseph diGenova said. “It is fairly abundant that the setting up of the server – unencrypted, without State Department input – was done partially surreptitiously. And this gentleman who was part of that process could be criminally exposed for violating the espionage statutes, especially for the grossly negligent handling of classified information, which is a 10-year felony.” …As U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1983 to 1987, diGenova prosecuted Israeli spy Daniel Pollard. He said he still has a security clearance above top secret because he represents clients in national security cases.“When people like this little guy start taking the fifth,” diGenova said, “it means that a lot of other people along the way are going to do the same thing. This happened because she wanted to have an unencrypted server to protect her privacy, and in the course of doing that, she compromised national security information for four years, whether she wants to admit it or not.”