Frustrated by the lack of cooperation and limited answers from those who worked to set up and maintain a private email server for Hillary Clinton during her time as Secretary of State, Republicans on a House panel voted to find Clinton aide Bryan Pagliano in Contempt of Congress, as for the second time in a week, the former IT worker refused to honor a subpoena for his testimony at a House hearing.
The contempt vote on the House Oversight Committee was straight along party lines.
“Subpoenas are not optional,” grumbled Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), as he moved ahead with a contempt resolution for Pagliano, who has refused to cooperate with Congress even though he received limited immunity from the Justice Department during its investigation of the Clinton email server.
“Twice we gave him an opportunity to show up,” Chaffetz told the committee, which featured an empty seat at the witness table for Pagliano.
“So, we are left with no choice but to hold him in contempt,” the Chairman added.
But Democrats saw it differently, arguing this is nothing but a political fishing expedition by the GOP, aimed directly at Hillary Clinton.
“As far as I can tell, the only emergency is the election approaching in a few weeks,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
“Where is our investigation of Donald Trump?” Cummings asked, as he accused the GOP of playing politics.
“The facts have not changed,” Pagliano’s lawyer said in a letter to the Oversight panel, who argued that Pagliano has already exercised his right not to answer questions and does not need to be dragged in again to do that in front of television cameras.
“You and the committee have been told from the beginning that Mr. Pagliano will continue to assert his Fifth Amendment rights and will decline to answer any questions put to him,” the letter from his attorneys stated.
“Republicans want a photo op,” Cummings said. “They want a ready-made campaign commercial.”
But GOP lawmakers say Pagliano does not have the right to ignore the Congress – though they admitted Pagliano cannot be compelled to say anything.
“You cannot force anyone to talk,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who said witnesses don’t have the right to “pick and choose” when they talk.