Ex-Clinton aide refuses to answer questions

Posted September 14, 2016

Three witnesses have refused to testify today before a House panel investigating Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

One of the witnesses called by the panel, Bryan Pagliano, a former State Department computer specialist, skipped the hearing even though he had been subpoenaed. Pagliano had previously pleaded the Fifth Amendmen.

During Tuesday's hearing, two employees of Colorado tech company Platte River Networks - the firm that maintained Clinton's private home server - repeatedly invoked their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Republicans on Tuesday questioned why Pagliano would avoid the latest hearing if he had immunity, though Democrats pushed back. In June 2013, after Clinton had left office, the server was moved from her home to a data center in northern New Jersey, where it was maintained by the Platte River Networks. Democrats insist the sole goal of the hearings is to undermine Clinton's bid for the presidency.

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"If anybody's under any illusion I'm going to let go of this and let it just sail off into the sunset, they are very ill-advised", he said. Bill Thornton and Paul Combetta were excused from the session.

The email issue has shadowed Clinton's candidacy for president, and Republicans have been steadfast in focusing on her use of a private server for government business, with several high-profile hearings leading up to the election.

A clearly frustrated Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, wasted no time issuing a subpoena to a top Federal Bureau of Investigation official in the middle of testimony on Monday, Fox News reported.

The FBI's report showed Combetta saying he used software called BleachBit to delete an archive of Clinton's work emails around the same time as a conference call with Clinton's lawyers, despite lawmakers seeking the records through a subpoena.

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A fourth individual who was involved in managing Clinton's server, Justin Cooper, also appeared before the Committee.

Two officials from Platte River Networks also are scheduled to appear before the committee. "We are entitled to the full file".

Chaffetz issued the subpoena to Jason Herring, the acting assistant Federal Bureau of Investigation director for congressional affairs. He had previously spoken to the Federal Bureau of Investigation under a grant of immunity to talk about how Clinton used a private, unsecured email server based in her NY home while she was the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013 rather than a more secure government server.

"On the advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my Fifth Amendment privilege", Combetta said.

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The FBI provided portions of the Clinton probe file to Congress last month and warned lawmakers that the documents "contain classified and other sensitive material" and are not to be made public.