Attorneys for Bryan Pagliano, a former Clinton aide who invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when called to testify before Congress, are worried that a proposed immunity deal could force Pagliano to give up his future right to decline questions.
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson pressed the Justice Department Monday on whether offering Pagliano a “proffer session” — a chance to outline what he knows without fear of legal consequences — would constitute an official waiver of his Fifth Amendment rights moving forward.
Pagliano reportedly set up Clinton’s private email server during her first presidential campaign and followed her to the State Department in 2009, where he became an IT analyst. Clinton has said she paid Pagliano personally to manage the server, which was set up in her Chappaqua home.
Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said the proffer session was intended for lawmakers to assess the need for an immunity order, which either committee could secure with a two-thirds vote.
The senators lamented the State Department’s refusal to cooperate in their letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Grassley and Johnson said their requests for interviews with agency officials who worked alongside Pagliano have been ignored.
The State Department has also been “extremely unresponsive” to requests for records from Pagliano’s time at the agency, including email discussions of his work on Clinton’s private server.
“This leaves the Committees with very little information on which to base a decision as important as whether to seek an immunity order to compel Mr. Pagliano’s testimony,” Grassley and Johnson wrote.
Mark MacDougall, Pagliano’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.
The senators asked the Justice Department if Pagliano was the subject of a criminal inquiry, including whether he was being investigated by the FBI for failing to report the outside income he received from Clinton while working at the State Department.
They also inquired about any negotiations that may have taken place between Pagliano and the FBI about an immunity deal from the Justice Department.
Pagliano walked away from an interview with the House Select Committee on Benghazi Thursday after less than 15 minutes of questioning. Lawmakers said he declined to address any of their questions.
While Democrats on the select committee have expressed their support for cutting some type of immunity deal, Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy has nixed the idea out of concern that such a deal could interfere with the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton email network.