Staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server skips out on Congress as two consultants refuse to testify
WASHINGTON — The former State Department employee who set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server refused to show up in Congress Tuesday, as two other former staffers asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to avoid testifying.
Bryan Pagliano defied a congressional subpoena and didn't attend a hearing Tuesday morning. And while House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) let tech consultants Paul Combetta and Bill Thornton depart after they repeatedly invoked the Fifth, he clearly wasn’t pleased about Pagliano's snub.
“He made the decision not to appear and there are consequences for that," Chaffetz said, saying Pagliano "thumbs his nose" at Congress with his refusal to participate in House Republicans' latest attempts to stir up trouble for Clinton over her use of a private email server.
“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.
Pagniano's attorney had said he was willing to appear before a closed session to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, but wouldn't show up in front of the cameras. He’s previously appeared in order to invoke those rights, and Democrats rolled their eyes at Chaffetz's bluster, with committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) calling it an "absolute abuse of authority."
One man who did testify was Justin Cooper, a former Bill Clinton aide who had supervised Pagliano in setting up the server. He said while he’d helped destroy Hillary Clinton's old Blackberrys as she got new phones, he'd always sought to back up the information.
"It was not in any way to destroy or hide any information at all," Cooper testified. "In fact, the opposite would be the case in that I was going out of my way to preserve all the information that was on those devices."