The Washington Post revealed last week that the former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign staffer and IT professional that was responsible for setting up Clinton’s personal email server has been cooperating with the FBI after receiving immunity from prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department. The staffer in question, Bryan Pagliano, had previously invoked his 5th amendment right to self incrimination and refused to testify when questioned by the House Select Committee on Benghazi led by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy.
This development is significant for several reasons and points towards potential legal problems for Hillary Clinton in the very near future.
First, Mr. Pagliano would only need immunity from prosecution if he had broken the law.
Second, immunity can only be granted by Federal Prosecutors, so the criminal investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server is far more advanced and serious than anyone in the U.S. Government has publicly acknowledged to date.
Third, the Justice Department would only grant immunity if information that Mr. Pagliano possesses about a more significant crime outweighed the crime that he committed and if it was in the public interest to do so.
It begs the question -- What does Mr. Pagliano know that makes him worthy of immunity?
Well, Mr. Pagliano’s connection to the case is that he set up and maintained the email server at Mrs. Clinton’s request, so whatever information he has is more than likely about Mrs. Clinton herself and pertains to the ongoing criminal investigation. To date, the investigation has revealed that Mrs. Clinton and her top aides were found to have sent and received over two thousand classified emails that all went through Mrs. Clinton’s private server in what appears to be a violation of U.S. law. What remains unclear is Mrs. Clinton’s true motivation for using a personal server in the first place.
Mrs. Clinton has publicly claimed that she did so as a matter of convenience. However, her detractors question whether she did so in an attempt to circumvent the federal records act knowing that she was going to run for President. Her detractors often point to the fact that Mrs. Clinton had her top aide and former State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills conduct the review of her emails and decide which ones to turn over before having her server “wiped” clean as evidence of a potential criminal conspiracy. Fortunately or unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, the FBI is said to have recovered all of those wiped emails and has spent month combing through them. However, Mrs. Clinton may be forced to testify about her motivation under oath.
Last week, a Federal Judge (elevated to the bench by President Bill Clinton) who is overseeing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit related to Mrs. Clinton’s email practices questioned Mrs. Clinton’s decision to use a personal email address through her own email server, instead of a government furnished one as required by the Federal Records Act. He pondered whether or not the decision might have been purposeful.
He is currently considering whether to allow lawyers in the case to depose Mrs. Clinton and her top aides to find out. However, Mr. Pagliano’s testimony might make that more complicated for Mrs. Clinton as any discrepancies in her testimony could open her up to perjury charges, the same crime her husband President Bill Clinton was found guilty of and almost saw him removed from office.
The next major step in the case will be for the FBI to interview the subjects of the investigation and reports have surfaced that they would like to wrap up the investigation by early May. So it is highly likely that Hillary Clinton will be brought in for questioning by the FBI in the next 4-8 weeks and could end up as the first major party Presidential candidate to enter the general election under the cloud of an FBI investigation and a subsequent indictment.
All of this spells big trouble for Hillary Clinton and the Democrat party.