A House committee on Thursday is expected to begin the process of holding a former Hillary Clinton aide in contempt of Congress for his failure to appear before the panel under subpoena.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced it will mark up a contempt of Congress resolution if the ex-State Department aide, Bryan Pagliano, does not attend its 10 a.m. hearing to testify about his role in setting up Clinton’s private email server in 2009.
Pagliano failed to attend a related hearing on Sept. 13 to answer questions about Clinton’s record-keeping, noting he previously invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination when asked about the same topic by the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
His position remains the same ahead of Thursday’s hearing, according to letters obtained by the Post.
“You and the Committee have been told from the beginning that Mr. Pagliano will continue to assert his Fifth Amendment rights and will decline to answer any questions put to him by your Committee,” Pagliano’s attorneys with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld wrote to Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
“In an effort to resolve this matter, Mr. Pagliano has offered to assert his rights on the record before this Committee in Executive Session. You have flatly refused that offer and continue to insist that Mr. Pagliano appear in a public session where his further and repeated assertion of his constitutional right not to testify can be videotaped and broadcast.”
Chaffetz threatened on Sept. 13 to consider a “full range of options” to address Pagliano’s absence.
“When you are served a subpoena by the United States Congress, that is not optional,” Chaffetz said.
“If anybody is under any illusion that I’m going to let go of this and just let it sail off into the sunset, they are very ill-advised.”
To take effect, a contempt resolution must be approved by the committee and the full House, after which the matter would move to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who would decide whether or not to prosecute.
Pagliano’s lawyers suggested Chaffetz wants Pagliano to appear in person to take the fifth to create a photo opportunity that would damage Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“Your demand under the present circumstances, that Mr. Pagliano again assert his constitutional rights in front of video cameras six weeks before the presidential election, betrays a naked political agenda and furthers no valid legislative aid,” the legal team wrote.
“Mr. Pagliano is defending a critical principal of individual liberty and the constitutional right of a private citizen to resist partisan political forces masquerading as proper government functions.”
The Oversight Committee has issued two subpoenas for Pagliano to produce his agreement of limited immunity with the Justice Department in its investigation of the handling of classified information.
Lawyers for Pagliano wrote that sharing the agreement is not possible because it is under seal in a pending legal case about Clinton’s emails involving the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.
“So long as [the order placing the agreement under seal] remains in effect, the documents remain under seal and we are precluded from producing them to the Committee in response to your subpoena,” the lawyers wrote.
Spencer Hsu contributed.