DOJ grants immunity to Clinton staffer who set up personal email server

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton © Scott Morgan
The Justice Department has granted immunity to the former State Department staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.  The immunity deal comes as part of a criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information.

A law enforcement official told the Washington Post that Bryan Pagliano has agreed to work with the FBI in exchange for not facing any possible criminal charges.

Pagliano, who invoked the Fifth Amendment when testifying before Congress over the email scandal, worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before setting up her server in her New York home in 2009.

The controversy is over the presidential Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's use of a private email account and a server installed in her house which she used while she was Secretary of State. Clinton’s server did not encrypt emails, a fact that let critics raise concerns about hackers who may have obtained classified information from her correspondence. The Clinton campaign maintains there were no breaches in security.

Clinton’s private email set-up first surfaced in March 2015, leading to heavy criticism. The FBI launched an investigation to find out who at the State Department sent the information to Clinton’s private email account.

In mid-January several dozens of her emails were described as “containing classified information, determined by the IC element to be at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET and TOP SECRET/SAP levels.”

Under the Freedom of Information Act, the State Department started releasing Clinton’s emails monthly in May 2015. The former secretary submitted about 55,000 emails, and the most recent batch was made public January 29. The State Department says it plans to be done with email posting by the end of February.

Officials told the Post that as the FBI wraps up its investigation, agents will “likely want to interview Clinton and her aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails.”

The Clinton campaign has described the probe as a security review.  Former and current officials in the FBI and the Justice Department told the Post investigators are trying to determine if a crime was committed.

“There was wrongdoing,” said a former senior law enforcement official. “But was it criminal wrongdoing?”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said that the former secretary of State has repeatedly offered to assist in the investigation.

As we have said since last summer, Secretary Clinton has been cooperating with the Department of Justice’s security inquiry, including offering in August to meet with them to assist their efforts if needed,” Fallon said in a statement, according to the Hill.

He added that the campaign is “pleased” that Pagliano is assisting with the investigation.

In an interview with former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, Larry King asked about the investigation of Hillary Clinton.

Let’s just get the facts straight. There is no investigation of Hillary going on. There is an investigation, a debate between different the government agencies, over whether documents that were traveling to Hillary should have been classified differently. No one is investigating Hillary. What is being investigated is that process. And it is a mess,” said Weiner. “You’ve got the National Security Agency, the FBI, the CIA all fighting over what should be classified.”

Weiner said and this is only an issue because these documents have been dumped into the public, and normally they wouldn’t.

“The FBI and State Department agree Hillary never got anything that was marked classified or confidential on her server. It never happened. The only question is whether it should have been and that is not a question for Hillary to have to decide,” Weiner added.

Weiner said most of the documents going back and forth in Congress are on unsecured servers.  He also said we rarely hear of Google being hacked but more often how the government has been hacked.

“This is a fabricated issue and it succeeded,” said Weiner. “You’re very question ‘What about Hillary being investigated?’”

In February, the New York Times reported a State Department probe revealed former US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the senior aides to his successor, Condoleezza Rice, reportedly used personal email accounts to receive a dozen messages with classified information in them.

The State Department’s Inspector General has found that a total of 12 emails examined from the agency’s archives contained national security information that’s now classified as "secret" or "confidential."