A former State Department employee who has dodged Congressional questions about his work on Hillary Clinton’s private email system could now face criminal charges.
Bryan Pagliano, who in 2016 refused to testify before the House Oversight Committee, should be charged as a warning to others, Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said Thursday.
Chaffetz sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking that Pagliano be formally charged. In September, the Oversight Committee voted to hold Pagliano in contempt of Congress for his failure to respond to a subpoena.
“The authority to compel witnesses is integral to Congress’s and the Committee’s investigative powers,” Chaffetz said in a statement.
“Allowing Mr. Pagliano’s conduct to go unaddressed would gravely harm Congress’s ability to conduct oversight. This letter details the Committee’s significant efforts to work with Pagliano and his attorneys to avoid the necessity of a criminal referral — including giving Pagliano a second opportunity to show up after first failing to appear.”
Pagliano managed the private server Clinton used while she was secretary of state and was a former adviser to Clinton.
Chaffetz has said it is essential to determine the extent to which security was compromised by Clinton’s use of a private server, and that the committee’s investigation would not end solely because Clinton lost the presidential election.
“Just because there was a political election doesn’t mean it goes away,” said Chaffetz.
“I still have a duty and obligation to get to the truth about one of the largest breaches of security at the State Department,” he said. “Tens of thousands of documents still have not been turned over to Congress.”
Pagliano is a critical piece of the puzzle, according to Chaffetz.
“Because Pagliano’s job functions included supporting mobile computing issues across the department, he was uniquely positioned to answer questions regarding State Department policies and practices for preserving records, as well as the technological procedures utilized to do so,” Chaffetz wrote.
“There is no legal basis for Pagliano’s refusal to appear before the committee,” Chaffetz said. “In light of Pagliano’s contumacious conduct in refusing to testify, the department should bring the matter before a grand jury for its action or file an information charging Pagliano.”
If found guilty, Pagliano could be fined up to $1,000 and jailed for up to one year.
Pagliano twice refused to appear before the committee. Further, in a deposition with Judicial Watch, Pagliano invoked the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination approximately 125 times.
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