JUNE 10, 2016
Some major and interesting developments occurred this week in the Clinton email scandal. Attorneys for Clinton IT official, Bryan Pagliano, confirmed for the first time that Mr. Pagliano has “use” immunity agreements with federal prosecutors investigating the Clinton email matter. Mr. Pagliano’s court filing lays it out:
In December 2015, Mr. Pagliano proffered testimony to the DOJ in connection with an ongoing DOJ investigation. A short time later, Mr. Pagliano and the DOJ entered into an agreement granting Mr. Pagliano limited “use” and “derivative use” immunity consistent with 18 U.S.C. § 6001 et seq. for that testimony and other testimony offered in connection with the same investigation. In response to the Court’s Order, Mr. Pagliano has today filed copies of his use immunity agreements with the Government, with a Motion asking the Court to maintain those documents ex parte and under seal.
Pagliano is the IT political appointee in the Clinton State Department who reportedly provided support for the Clinton email system.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan had issued a court order requiring Pagliano to produce any reported immunity agreement and identify the legal basis for the Fifth Amendment claim he planned to assert in Judicial Watch’s discovery. The order delayed Pagliano’s deposition, which had been scheduled for June 6.
In response to this, we filed an opposition motion to Mr. Pagliano’s attempt to file immunity agreements ex parte and under seal. We also asked the court to deny Pagliano’s effort to avoid videotaping of his deposition, during which he plans to assert his Fifth Amendment right.
Judicial Watch attorneys argued to Judge Sullivan that Pagliano’s immunity agreement should be made publicly available:
Mr. Pagliano’s request to file his immunity agreements ex parte and under seal is unfounded. First, the Court ordered Mr. Pagliano to file a memorandum, along with a copy of his reported immunity agreements. The Court did not order the immunity agreements to be filed ex parte or under seal and could have done so…as this Court has repeatedly emphasized, this case is about the public’s “right to know details related to the creation, purpose, and use of the clintonemail.com system.”
The brief also notes that the court can draw adverse inferences from any assertion of the Fifth Amendment in the civil lawsuit and that there is little chance that Pagliano could not answer some, if not all, of Judicial Watch’s questions without having to assert his Fifth Amendment rights.
In yet another development, the Obama administration today filed a “Statement of Interest” supporting continued secrecy of the Pagliano immunity agreements. The government’s brief states that “releasing Mr. Pagliano’s agreements with the United States could prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation.”
This discovery arises in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that seeks records about the controversial employment status of Huma Abedin, former deputy chief of staff to Clinton. The lawsuit was reopened because of revelations about the clintonemail.com system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:13-cv-01363)). Judge Sullivan ordered that all deposition transcripts be made publicly available.
It is unfortunate that the public’s right to know is being hampered yet again. These court filings are further evidence of the legal mess caused by Mrs. Clinton’s email system.
Simply put, we need to see Pagliano’s immunity agreements so our attorneys are able to prepare their questions for him – especially if he’s going to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege.
We have faced astonishing roadblocks to getting simple questions answered about the Clinton email system. But, as you will see below, we have persevered and managed to obtain information under oath.
We did take testimony this week from another top aide familiar with Secretary Clinton’s email and BlackBerry: Ambassador Stephen D. Mull, executive secretary of the State Department from June 2010 to October 2012. It was Mull who suggested that Clinton be issued a State Department BlackBerry, which would protect her identity while still being subject to FOIA requests. The transcript of his deposition is available here.
In his testimony, Mull said that he doesn’t remember how or when he first learned about the former secretary of state’s use of the BlackBerry. The Daily Caller reported on the deposition under this headline: “State Dept. Official Who Discussed Hillary’s Private Server Now Says He Can’t Remember Anything About It.”
“Do you know how you learned [about Clinton’s server]?” Judicial Watch attorney Michael Bekesha asked Mull.
“I can’t recall, no,” Mulls responded.
“Do you recall when you learned that?” came the follow-up question.
“No. I can’t recall,” said Mull.
That line of questioning about a series of August 30, 2011, emails also caught the attention of U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan. Judge Sullivan cited the emails in his Memorandum and Order granting Judicial Watch discovery into the Clinton email matter:
In August 2011 communication difficulties experienced by Secretary Clinton prompted discussion among State Department staff about whether issuing a State Department blackberry might solve the problem…Stephen Mull, Executive Secretary of the State Department at the time, noted that if Secretary Clinton used a State issued BlackBerry, her identity “would be secret” but that the state.gov email account “would be subject to FOIA requests.”…Ms. Abedin responded “let’s discuss the state BlackBerry, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
You may not be shocked to learn that Amb. Mull said he did not recall the circumstances behind the August 2011 email exchange.
Amb. Mull now serves as the State Department’s lead coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation.
We had yet another deposition this past Wednesday. Our attorneys deposed Karin Lang, director of executive secretariat staff and designated representative for the State Department. The Lang transcript is available here. Lang was designated by the State Department as its 30(b)(6) witness. A 30(b)(6) witness is assigned to provide the agency’s testimony on the Clinton email issue.
Lang testified that key State Department federal recordkeeping officials did not know that Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin were using non-state.gov email to conduct government business. She also testified that the State Department could not say whether Clinton or Abedin has turned over all emails in their possession that may be potentially responsive to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of the Information Act (FOIA) request. Lang also said that it would not be reasonable to search all 70,000 State Department email accounts in order to retrieve Clinton’s emails. (Clinton has suggested that the State Department would have many of her emails because she sent most of them to State Department employees on their government accounts.)
Lang also testified that a picture of Mrs. Clinton using a Blackberry spurred a State official to ask again if she was using non-state.gov account. Again, he was told “no.”
Lang signed, under the penalty of perjury, State Department answers to Judicial Watch’s written interrogatories about the Clinton email system and FOIA. The State Department acknowledged in its answers that it “has no method of identifying which State Department officials and employees had and/or used an account on clintonemail.com to conduct official government business.”
Amb. Mull and Ms. Lang are among seven depositions of former Clinton top aides and State Department officials that Judicial Watch has scheduled over the next three weeks. Huma Abedin is scheduled to testify on June 28, and top State Department official Patrick Kennedy on June 29. And we hope the Court will allow us to bring Mr. Pagliano, the Clinton supposed go-to IT expert on her email system, soon (see story above).Sign U
Our investigation into the Clinton emails is receiving national media attention almost daily. See my most recent interview on The Wall Street Journal’s “Opinion Journal.” And be sure to watch the Fox News Channel this evening for my interview on the O’Reilly Factor in the 8 pm ET hour.
We reported this week in our Corruption Chronicles blog that President Obama lifted sanctions against the Communist state Cuba despite it being an officially-designated terrorist state by his own administration! Here are the startling details:
In a quest to normalize relations Obama lifted sanctions against Cuba and celebrated being the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Communist island since 1928, but the Caribbean nation still appears on a crucial government terrorist list along with the world’s most violent Islamic groups. This contradiction indicates that, when it comes to our bloated government, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
Here’s some of the history. Before Obama “normalized” relations and lifted economic sanctions, Cuba for decades appeared on the State Department’s list of nation’s that sponsor terrorism. Its longtime communist regime is renowned for committing atrocious human rights violations and openly offering refuge to criminals on the run from U.S. justice. Among them is a Black Liberation Army leader on the FBI’s most wanted list after a prison escape following a conviction for murdering a New Jersey State Trooper. More recently, Medicare fraud ringleaders have escaped to Cuba after fleecing the U.S. government out of tens of millions of dollars.
Nevertheless, in 2014 Obama announced he was charting a new course in Cuba by “normalizing relations with a country just 90 miles off our coast.” This has included opening an American embassy in Havana (inaugurated with a flag-raising ceremony led by Secretary of State John Kerry), easing travel and export sanctions, reestablishing direct mail and establishing a bunch of “bi-lateral” commissions to deal with everything from human rights to human trafficking to business ventures and other shared interests. On May 29, 2015, the Obama administration rescinded Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling it “another step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between the United States and Cuba.” Kerry had the final word on that.
However, Cuba still appears prominently—along with radical groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah—in the latest Terrorist Assets Report released by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This is the 2015 report to Congress on assets in the U.S. relating to terrorist countries and international terrorism program designees. OFAC is the government’s lead office responsible for implementing sanctions with respect to assets of international terrorist organizations and terrorism-supporting countries. Its mission is to administer and enforce economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals, the report states. This means it administers sanctions programs targeting international terrorists and terrorist organizations and their supporters as well as countries that have been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. Cuba is the country with the second-largest amount ($243.2 million) of assets frozen by Uncle Sam in 2015. Iran is the highest with nearly $2 billion. Sudan and Syria have $30.9 million and $25.9 million respectively.
“Based on available information, Cuba and each of the current state sponsors of terrorism own diplomatic and consular real property in the United States,” the new Treasury report says. “Cuba owns six blocked properties located in New York and Washington, D.C. Syria owns four blocked properties located in New York and Washington, D.C. Sudan owns seven blocked properties located in New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Iran owns eleven blocked properties located in California, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Texas, and Washington, D.C.” The report also lists well-known terrorist groups whose assets have been frozen like Al Qaeda ($13,063,764), Hamas ($1,250,615) and Hezbollah ($8,277,178).
Weeks before this government document listing Cuba as a terrorist nation was released, the Obama administration let Cuban military and security officials access crucial U.S. military facilities in Florida. In April Cuban military agents, including the chief of investigations for the country’s National Revolutionary Police, were given a VIP tour of the U.S. Naval air base in Key West, Florida. A few days later four Cuban national security officials were paraded around the Joint Interagency Task Force South, which is charged with monitoring and intercepting illicit drug trafficking in a region that’s notorious for narcotics activity. A mainstream newspaper editorial pointed out that the National Revolutionary Police chief “is not someone you’d expect to see as an honored guest of the U.S. military” because “he plays a key law enforcement role in a state where beating and arresting human rights activists is considered law enforcement.”
We have previously reported that the terrorist organization Hezbollah established an operational base on Cuba. And earlier this year, we filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense to obtain records about American POWs during the Vietnam War who may have been held captive by Cuban government or military forces on the island of Cuba. (No records have been found about that issue, believe it or not.)
The Left has always had a soft spot for the anti-American Castro regime, citing socialist fantasy stories about government run health care and education programs that America should import from the murderous communists there. Obama’s ideological fervor led him once again to help a terrorist state. Let’s pray more American innocents don’t pay the price for Obama’s love affair with communist-controlled Cuba.