Former Hillary Clinton IT aide Bryan Pagliano will appear under subpoena before the House Select Committee on Benghazi Thursday, where he is expected to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Despite the fact that he is not expected to answer questions, Pagliano still must appear and assert that right in response to every question the members pose to him.
Mark MacDougall, Pagliano’s attorney, wrote to the Benghazi panel confirming his client will appear before the committee, according to a letter obtained by CNN.
However, he made clear Pagliano will “assert his right to refuse to answer any and all questions that may be put to him by any member or staff lawyer of the Select Committee.”
MacDougall said that because the committee will “obtain no new testimony or other information” as a result of Pagliano pleading the fifth, “forcing Mr Pagliano to appear, restate the advice of his counsel and decline to respond to questions can only be intended to intimidate our client, cause him personal embarrassment and foster further political controversy.”
He called it “an improper use of subpoena power” and “in the pursuit of purely political objectives.”
In a letter responding to MacDougall that was obtained by CNN, Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy denied those were the committee’s intentions and insisted that Pagliano be present to personally assert his Fifth Amendment privilege, citing previous examples of former Enron executive Ken Law and Oliver North.
Gowdy said their intention is to “explore topics relevant to the Committee’s jurisdiction, particularly whether the record is full, true and complete” with respect to the events before, during and after the Benghazi attacks.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s top Democrat, agreed with MacDougall’s assertion that Pagliano was being forced to appear just for show.
“This is the identical approach taken by Chairman (Darrell) Issa when he served as chairman of the Oversight Committee — forcing witnesses to appear in person to assert their Fifth Amendment rights just for a photo op,” Cummings said in a statement. “Mr. Pagliano’s testimony has nothing to do with the Benghazi attacks and everything to do with Republicans’ insatiable desire to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential bid.”