Bryan Pagliano, a former IT specialist with the State Department during the tenure of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, has been under intense scrutiny for his role in setting up Clinton’s private email server, through which she may have illegally received classified information. After pleading the Fifth through several House Committees, Pagliano was granted immunity by the Justice Department and will cooperate with the FBI in its investigation into the matter.
Pagliano served in the State Department for four years, during part of which he was paid personally by Clinton for “IT services” that include setting up the server in question. In less controversial work, Pagliano helped expand remote work arrangements in the State Department from a D.C.-only option to give worldwide access.
Here’s what you need to know:
He Was Paid off the Books for His Work with Clinton
Pagliano first worked for Clinton as the IT director of her 2008 Presidential campaign, then worked for her political action committee after she suspended her first quest for the White House. In 2009, he joined her State Department team as an IT specialist, but continued to work for the Clintons as a private consultant to their family, and was personally paid by the Clinton family.
Pagliano did not disclose the job or salary on State Department financial disclosure forms, an act that internal documents show could lead to a $10,000 fine or imprisonment. His immunity deal likely prevents these outcomes.
He Pled the Fifth at Several House Committees
The question of Hillary Clinton’s emails first arose during the scandal regarding the Benghazi attack. Pagliano, having left the State Department at the time, was subpoenaed by House Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Trey Gowdy regarding information “related to the servers or systems” Clinton used while Secretary of State. Pagliano’s lawyers released the following statement in response:
While we understand that Mr. Pagliano’s response to this subpoena may be controversial in the current political environment, we hope that members of the Select Committee will respect our client’s right to invoke the protections of the Constitution. For these reasons, we respectfully request that the Select Committee excuse Mr. Pagliano from personally appearing on Sept. 10, 2015.
He Received Immunity & Is Cooperating with the FBI
On March 2, the Justice Department announced that Pagliano would be granted immunity in exchange for his testimony regarding the email scandal. As the name suggests, this means that nothing he says can be used against him, but also means that he cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions.
Journalists and legal experts mark this as a major turning point in the inquiry. National Review writer and former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy suggested Pagliano’s immunity deal meant there was “probably” a grand jury for Pagliano. Though he didn’t share McCarthy’s certainty, Charles Tiefer at Forbes suggested the immunity deal meant the case was coming to a conclusion.
His Deal Could Be a Bad Sign for Hillary
Hillary Clinton and longtime aide Huma Abedin both face significant scrutiny in the email scandal. (Getty)
Whether Pagliano’s immunity deal was sought by his legal team or by the FBI to circumvent his Fifth Amendment invocations, his testimony is “potentially damaging” to others facing scrutiny. A key part of the investigation into Clinton involves whether she knew the information she sent and received through the private server was classified, which requires speaking to her state of mind. Free from fear of his own prosecution, Pagliano can testify (or be forced to testify) to that state of mind. Other top aides, like Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan, may also be implicated by his testimony.
Clinton, though, doesn’t seem worried. In an interview with CBS News, she dismissed concerns about any upcoming indictment:
It’s a security review. I’m delighted that he has agreed to cooperate, as everyone else has, and I think we’ll be moving toward a resolution of this…I think we’re getting closer and closer to wrapping this up. I also know that there were reports today about the hundreds of officials and the thousand emails that they were sending back and forth that have been looked at and classified retroactively. This really raises serious questions about this whole process, I think.
In His Government Career, He Pioneered Remote Work for State Employees
Not all of Pagliano’s work was particularly controversial. The State Department’s remote work, or “teleworking,” capabilities were initially confined to the Washington, D.C. area. Pagliano stated in an interview with Trezza Media Group, part of which is seen above, that Foreign Service Officers rotating into D.C. as part of their duties gave rave reviews of the system and wanted access in their regular embassies. Pagliano, as a member of the Information Resource Management Bureau, helped expand the system around the world.
Pagliano left the State Department in 2013 to serve as an analyst at technology firm Gartner, a position he held for one year. While at Gartner, however, Pagliano continued to perform contract work for the State Department, which was terminated at an unknown time and announced one day after his being granted immunity.