Judicial Watch: Court Should Not Seal Clinton IT Official Immunity Agreements
Justice Department Files Last Minute Brief Supporting Immunity Agreement Secrecy
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that it filed an opposition motion to Clinton email witness Bryan Pagliano’s attempt to file immunity agreements ex parte and under seal. Also, Judicial Watch 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 argue to U.S. District Court Emmett 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.
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.”
Mr. Pagliano is the Clinton State Department IT political appointee who reportedly provided support for the Clinton email system.
“Simply put, we need to see Pagliano’s immunity agreements so our attorneys are able to prepare his questions – especially if he’s going to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege,” stated Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president. “We have faced astonishing roadblocks to getting simple questions answered about the Clinton email system.”
Previously, Judge Sullivan issued a court order requiring Pagliano to produce any reported immunity agreement and identify the legal basis for the Fifth Amendment claim he plans to assert in Judicial Watch’s discovery into the Clinton email system. The order delayed Pagliano’s deposition, which had been scheduled for Monday, June 6.
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.