Following an FBI investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server that revealed a multitude of apparent violations of federal law but resulted in no recommendation for prosecution, the Republican-led Congress has resumed efforts to hold somebody — anybody — accountable for what happened.
According to CNS News, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning in a bid to determine why federal records were deleted from a privatelyheld email server and who exactly ordered those records deleted even though they were subject to a subpoena.
The committee requested the testimony of four individuals involved in the technical aspects of setting up and maintaining Clinton’s server, but only three of them showed up, as State Department IT employee Bryan Pagliano declined to attend.
The committee members didn’t get much more cooperation from those that did show, however, as two of the witnesses pleaded their Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination at the hearing.
“On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my Fifth Amendment privilege,” stated both Paul Combetta and Bill Thornton of Platte River Networks, the Colorado-based IT firm that had managed Clinton’s private server.
Combetta was suspected of being the actual person who deleted the documents stored on the server after they had been subpoenaed by the House Select Benghazi Committee.
However, as Chairman Jason Chaffetz revealed in his questioning, Combetta had already accepted an immunity agreement with the Justice Department, meaning he couldn’t be charged or prosecuted even if he had admitted to some sort of criminality under oath during congressional testimony.
With an immunity deal in his pocket protecting himself from prosecution, there was no real reason for him to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, unless of course he was covering for somebody else who doesn’t have an immunity deal to shield them from federal prosecution.
Though we can’t know for sure exactly who Combetta was protecting, there are three names that immediately come to mind as likely suspects: Clinton herself and top aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.
Unfortunately, this congressional committee hearing didn’t really uncover any new information. What it did show was that even those individuals who have been granted immunity still declined to share what they knew, meaning they were most likely covering for other unprotected individuals.
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