Clinton Aide’s Immunity Deal Draws Objection

     WASHINGTON (CN) — A government watchdog still gnawing on Hillary Clinton’s email scandal pressed a federal judge Friday to divulge one of her former staffer’s immunity agreements with the Justice Department.
     Conservative-minded Judicial Watch filed the 7-page memorandum as part of its years-long effort to unearth State Department records about Clinton’s use of her private email server as secretary of the agency to conduct official business.
     Clinton’s former technology adviser Bryan Pagliano faces deposition in the Freedom of Information Act case, and drew Judicial Watch’s consternation for attempting to file his immunity agreements with the court ex parte and under seal.
     An attorney Pagliano revealed the existence of the immunity agreement for the first time earlier this week, amid a series of successes for Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary.
     With the delegate count strongly in her favor, Clinton locked up key party endorsements Thursday from President Barack Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
     Though Pagliano cited an “understanding” with the Justice Department that his immunity agreements would remain secret, Judicial Watch said he failed to define “understanding” or provide evidence that the understanding exists.
     Calling Pagliano’s request to file his immunity agreements under seal “unfounded,”
     Judicial Watch said Pagliano has ignored the court’s order to provide details about the scope of the agreements, which the watchdog group says should be public.
     “Nonetheless, an ‘understanding’ or even an agreement is irrelevant,” the opposition brief states. “It does not supersede a court order.”
     If the court allows Pagliano to file his immunity agreements ex parte and under seal, it will hinder the watchdog group’s ability to respond to his protective order request, Judicial Watch said.
     “It also prevents Plaintiff from tailoring its questions in an effort to limit Mr. Pagliano’s need to invoke the Fifth Amendment,” the group said.
     Pagliano’s attorney Mark J. MacDougall said in a legal memorandum Tuesday that Pagliano’s potential for self-incrimination warrants assertion of his Fifth Amendment rights.
     “Mr. Pagliano’s prospective deposition will inevitably cover matters that might ‘furnish a link in the chain of evidence needed to prosecute,'” MacDougall wrote.
     “The mere fact that the government was willing to offer Pagliano ‘use’ immunity here in exchange for his testimony indicates that his fear of prosecution is more than fanciful or speculative,” that brief continues.
     But Judicial Watch believes Pagliano can answer some or maybe even all of the questions it plans to ask during his upcoming deposition.
     “It is not at all evident how Mr. Pagliano has a reasonable belief that answering questions about the creation and operation of the system for State Department business or the processing of FOIA requests for Mrs. Clinton’s and Ms. Abedin’s emails would lead to his prosecution under a federal criminal statute,” Judicial Watch said in its memorandum, referencing Clinton’s long-time adviser and aide Huma Abedin, whom the FBI has already interviewed.
     The watchdog group indicated that it will ask Pagliano during his deposition about his involvement in creating and operating the system and processing State Department freedom of information requests related to the Clinton email matter and the Judicial Watch lawsuit.
     Judicial Watch asked the court to deny Pagliano’s request for a protective order and his request to file his immunity agreements ex parte under seal, and to order him to undergo a videotaped deposition.

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