WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- House Republicans promised punishment for a former aide to Bill Clinton who ignored a congressional subpoena to testify about his role in Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffez, R-Utah, said former Clinton Foundation technology aide Bryan Pagliano would face punishment for failing to appear at a hearing Tuesday after the Republican-led panel issued him a subpoena.
Pagliano's attorney sent the committee a letter affirming his client's constitutional right to refuse to testify. Pagliano previously appeared before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, the panel investigating the terrorist attack that first unearthed the existence of Clinton's private email server. Pagliano was employed by the Clinton Foundation and maintained a private email server initially used by Bill and Hillary Clinton while they were out of government, and which Hillary Clinton continued to use after she became secretary of state.
Pagliano refused to answer questions before the Benghazi committee on the matter when subpoenaed in 2015, citing his Fifth Amendment rights.
Pagliano's lawyer told the committee further attempts to compel his client's testimony are a violation of legal process and Pagliano was not compelled to appear at a hearing on an issue for which he has already invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.
Chaffetz responded during Tuesday's hearing, saying Pagliano was "thumbing his nose at Congress" by ignoring the subpoena.
"He should be here. When you are served a subpoena by the United States Congress, that is not optional," Chaffetz said. "His attendance is required here. ... We're not letting go of this."
Pagliano was granted immunity from prosecution by the Justice Department in exchange for his cooperation in the FBI's investigation into Clinton's email server, a point Republicans on the committee raised to demonstrate there is no personal liability in Pagliano testifying, only the political fallout for his former bosses.
"I want to read the agreement between the Department of Justice and this witness and whether that agreement requires this witness to cooperate with other entities of government -- that is commonplace," Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a heated exchange between Republicans and Democrats. "For [the Justice Department] to say you can tell us the truth and not tell Congress makes no sense."
Three other individuals did appear, though two were of no more help to the committee than Pagliano. Representatives from the private company Platte River Networks, which housed and managed Clinton's email server after Pagliano turned it over to them, also pleaded the Fifth Amendment multiple times and were dismissed.
A former employee of the foundation who played a tangential role in setting up the email server did testify. Justin Cooper, who helped Pagliano with the initial setup for the email server, testified he did so without ever having security clearance for access to classified information that was later found to have been contained in Clinton's email.
Chaffetz has also issued a subpoena to the FBI for the full file on its email investigation in the wake of the Justice Department's decision not to press criminal charges against Clinton. The FBI has made public a summary of the investigation and investigators' notes on their interview with Clinton after FBI Director James Comey said the evidence demonstrated she was "extremely careless" with classified information but the matter did not warrant criminal prosecution.