A former information technology adviser to Hillary Clinton plans to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at a deposition next week and wants to prevent any video recording being made of the session.
Lawyers for former State Department tech specialist Bryan Pagliano said in a court filing Wednesday that there’s no valid reason to make an audio or video recording of the session since Pagliano doesn’t plan to answer any of the questions he’s asked by the conservative group Judicial Watch, which is pursuing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit related to Clinton’s private email server. The group is scheduled to take Pagliano’s deposition on Monday.
“Mr. Pagliano will invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment and decline to testify at the deposition,” Pagliano’s lawyers Mark MacDougall and Connor Mullin wrote. “Given the constitutional implications, the absence of any proper purpose for video recording the deposition, and the considerable risk of abuse, the Court should preclude Judicial Watch, Inc. … from creating an audiovisual recording of Mr. Pagliano’s deposition.”
Acting on a request from another former aide to Clinton, Cheryl Mills, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan already ruled that videos of the sessions should be put under seal. However, Pagliano’s lawyers say there’s still a chance the video could emerge later either with or without permission from the court.
“Judicial Watch may move to unseal the materials at any time. Furthermore, in the event of a leak or data breach at the court reporting company, Mr. Pagliano would be hard-pressed to prevent further dissemination and republication of the video. Given that there is no proper purpose for videotaping the deposition in the first place, Judicial Watch’s preference should yield to the significant constitutional interests at stake,” Pagliano’s attorneys added.
A spokesman for Clinton’s presidential campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the development.
Judicial Watch indicated Wednesday that it will resist the proposal to ban video recording.
“Judge Sullivan already put in place a mechanism that addresses these concerns,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in an interview. “There are always credibility issues that are raised by any assertion of the Fifth Amendment. This video, we believe will be helpful to Judge Sullivan in assessing the witness’ demeanor when asserting the Fifth Amendment and in response to other questions.”
Sullivan acknowledged the latest dispute Wednesday evening, issuing a brief order giving Judicial Watch under 5 p.m. Thursday to respond to Pagliano’s motion and allowing the tech specialist’s lawyers to respond by noon Friday.
Pagliano previously took the Fifth when he was called to appear at a closed session of the House Benghazi Committee. However, he reportedly spoke with FBI investigators looking into the Clinton email set-up after receiving some type of immunity from the government.
Clinton testified before the Benghazi panel in public session and said she encouraged everyone with information to cooperate with the committee. Her campaign expressed disappointment with Pagliano’s decision to take the Fifth last year in that probe. Clinton’s camp said it was pleased when Pagliano eventually talked to the FBI.
However, Clinton has taken a selective approach to cooperating with inquiries into the email issue. She and her top aides declined to speak with investigators from the State Department’s Office of Inspector General preparing a report on the impact of private email accounts on recordkeeping when she was secretary of state and during the tenure of previous secretaries.
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