Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email scandal heated up Wednesday after reports that Bryan Pagliano, the man who set up Clinton’s server, was granted immunity. According to the Washington Post, a high-ranking U.S. law enforcement official said Pagliano is now cooperating with the FBI under the condition that he receives immunity from prosecution. Pagliano is a longtime Clinton aide who worked on her 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the unsecured private server in question at her New York home in 2009, the newspaper reported.
When it was learned that Mrs. Clinton may have been receiving and transmitting top-secret and classified U.S. documents and information on the device, she said she did it for her own convenience, not to avoid scrutiny. FBI representatives reportedly want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the use of unauthorized computer equipment to distribute highly sensitive information. For her part, Mrs. Clinton at first denied sending any classified documents. However, a freedom of information lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch led to the release of hundreds of classified documents transmitted by Clinton and her aides. Her story changed chronologically with the gathering of evidence, and she now says she didn’t know any of the hundreds of documents were classified and that they were not marked classified.
Spokespersons at the FBI and Justice Department would not discuss the investigation and Pagliano’s lawyer also refused to make a statement or answer any questions. The forward movement in the investigation comes at a sensitive time since Clinton is all but assured to be the Democratic Party nominee in the 2016 presidential elections.
FBI law enforcement officials are investigating potential damage caused by classified information in the emails that may or may not have been hacked by foreign or domestic governments or entities. Ms. Clinton’s campaign has described the FBI investigation swirling around her as a “security review.” However, high-ranking current and former officials in the FBI and at the Justice Department say investigators will determine whether criminal activity is involved.
“There was wrongdoing,” said a former senior law enforcement official. “But was it criminal wrongdoing?” Mrs. Clinton has apologized for conducting State Department business on her unsecured server that she kept in her home before it was kept in a computer shop bathroom closet in Colorado. “Yes, I should have used two email addresses, one for personal matters and one for my work at the State Department. Not doing so was a mistake. I’m sorry about it, and I take full responsibility,” said Clinton.
Because Hillary Clinton is running to be the President of the United States, political tensions are high and eyes are on the Justice Department currently headed by Obama appointee Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. Some in the opposition party suggest a special prosecutor should handle the case because of the political stakes. However, Lynch says there is no need for that since she has appointed career Justice Department attorneys to handle the case.
“We will review all the facts and all the evidence and come to an independent conclusion as how to best handle it,” says Lynch.