Two Witnesses Take the 5th at Hearing on Failure to Preserve Hillary Clinton’s Emails

By Melanie Arter | September 13, 2016 | 11:13am EDT
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – During a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the failure to preserve federal records during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure, two witnesses called on to give their opening statements and answer questions asserted their 5th Amendment rights and refused to answer questions.

“On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my 5th Amendment privilege,” Paul Combetta of Platte River Networks said when asked to give his opening statement.

 



“On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my 5th Amendment constitutional privilege,” Bill Thornton of Platte River Networks said when asked whether he had an opening statement.

Former Clinton Foundation staff member Justin Cooper, who did not take the 5th, said he had no opening statement.

“Mr. Combetta, we’ve sent a subpoena to you for your supposed-- we have read that there was an immunity agreement. Mr. Combetta, did you produce your immunity agreement this morning as required under the subpoena?” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asked.

“On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my 5th Amendment privilege,” Combetta responded.

“Mr. Combetta, a couple of questions. Senator Johnson last year released a portion of an August 19, 2015 internal communication between two Platte River employees,” said Chaffetz.

“Here’s how it read: ‘Wondering how we can sneak an email in now after the fact, asking them’ – meaning them we read to be the Clinton Executives Services Corporation – ‘when they told us to cut the backups and have them confirm it for our records. Starting to think this whole thing is really covering up some shady’ - and there’s an expletive there – ‘I just think if we have it in writing that they told us to cut the backups, then we can go public with our statement, saying we’ve had the backups since day one. Then we were told to trim to 30 days. It’d make us look a whole lot better.’ As I understand it, you were one of the two employees assigned to PRN in the Clinton account,” Chaffetz added.

“Did you send or receive this email?” Chaffetz asked.

“On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my 5th Amendment privilege,” Combetta responded.

After Combetta continued to take the 5th after repeated questioning from Chaffetz, the chairman asked Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) if he had any questions for the witnesses.

“Do you all plan to continue to assert…your 5th Amendment rights? Is that your plan?” Cummings asked.

“On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline to answer and assert my 5th Amendment privilege,” Combetta and Thornton responded.

Chaffetz dismissed Combetta and Thornton from the hearing, and the rest of the hearing continued with testimony from Cooper.

Bryan Pagliano, former senior advisor of Information Resource Management for the State Department, who was also subpoenaed, did not show for the hearing.

MRC Store