House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) members voted along party lines Thursday to recommend holding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton technology aide Bryan Pagliano in contempt of Congress after he defied a congressional subpoena to testify for the second time in two weeks.
“Subpoenas are not optional,” HOGR Chairman Jason Chaffetz said to the chair from which Pagliano — the sole invited witness in an HOGR hearing on Clinton’s use of private email servers at the Department of State — was supposed to testify.
But the full House must vote on the oversight panel’s contempt resolution, and the clock is running out before Congress leaves for recess next week until after the November election. Pagliano, who managed Clinton’s email system, has already pleaded the Fifth Amendment multiple times before congressional committees. Pagliano’s lawyers indicated to the committee he would do the same if he appeared before HOGR Thursday.
Florida Republican Rep. John Mica said he could have and should have appeared — even if he took the Fifth again — rather than defy Congress.
“We cannot make this government work — we cannot function — if people will not adhere to the Constitution, the rules and the basic ability of the Congress to talk to these people,” Mica said.
“This is an issue that goes to the very core of our democratic and constitutional process,” Mica added.
Pagliano has an immunity agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ), so the only reason why he would refuse to testify is if Pagliano has something too revealing to say about the Clinton investigation, said South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy.
“So you wouldn’t want people to say the same thing to Congress that they would to the FBI,” Gowdy said.
Democrats called the contempt resolution and all of HOGR’s hearings on Clinton emails political theatre.
“Republicans want a photo op,” HOGR Ranking Member and Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said. “They want a ready-made campaign commercial.”
“I think it’s about an abuse of power and a waste of time,” said Virgin Islands Democratic Rep. Stacey Plaskett, adding that “it’s destroying the reputation of this committee.”
House Republicans are trying to get to the bottom of Clinton’s emails and the FBI investigation into them before November.
FBI officials still owe Congress answers, but the committee is making progress, Republican HOGR members told The Daily Caller News Foundation after a classified hearing Tuesday night on the FBI Clinton file.
“I think Congress will be able to see what it should have been able to see all along the way,” Chaffetz told TheDCNF Tuesday.
“I want to have as many open hearings as possible,” Chaffetz added. “I don’t like the closed door approach. Sometimes it’s necessary, but I’d much rather have them in the open.”