Trey Gowdy, the congressional Republican pit bull from South Carolina, explained why he wasn’t about to offer immunity to a former Hillary Clinton staffer who refused to testify at a committee hearing Thursday.
A State Department information technology staff member who helped the former secretary of state set up a private server to handle her email traffic refused to answer questions before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
During an approximately 20-minute session, Bryan Pagliano pleaded the Fifth Amendment during questioning in the closed-door committee hearing.
Gowdy told “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade on Friday that the FBI should be the agency to make any immunity decision, because it “has the broadest jurisdiction of everyone looking into this issue.”
He pointed out that “there’s an ongoing executive-branch investigation” into the matter of Clinton’s emails.
The FBI, therefore, “needs to be the one to contemplate who to make a deal with, who to talk to [and] who to offer immunity to” — not Congress.
Gowdy spent the bulk of his Fox News interview answering critics of his decision to call the witness in the first place.
The IT professional was ordered to appear even though his attorney, Mark MacDougall, earlier sent a letter to the committee advising it that Pagliano would refuse to testify and invoke his Fifth Amendment right.
The request for testimonty ruffled the feathers of ranking Democratic member Elijah Cummings of Maryland.
“Mr. Cummings knows differently. He’s a very accomplished attorney, and he knows you have to talk to every witness,” Gowdy, chairman of the committee, told Kilmeade.
“He’s never been interested in finding out what happened in Benghazi; he’s interested in protecting Secretary Clinton, and he’s had a bad summer,” Gowdy said of Cummings.
MacDougall also had protested his client’s appearance, saying it caused Pagliano “personal embarrassment.”
But Gowdy pointed out that the attorney could not invoke the Fifth Amendment for his client; Magliano had to do it personally.
“His client is the one who has to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege,” he said. “It’s not his lawyer’s privilege! It’s not Mr. Cummings’ privilege. It’s not yours or mine. It belongs to Mr. Pagliano.”
Gowdy then answered Cummings’ accusation that the chairman’s insistence that Magliano testify amounted to grandstanding.
Gowdy said it’s the Democrats who more routinely grandstand.
“I think it’s important to remember that when the Democrats controlled Congress, they routinely had witnesses come not to private settings but to public settings to invoke the Fifth,” he said. “So, this hypocrisy and duplicity is why people don’t like politicians.”
Watch the interview, via Fox News.
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