(Advance the above video to the 11:30 mark.)
It was a busy morning Thursday for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
First, the committee sent an order to the owners of the Reddit social media platform to preserve any and all posts by the user "stonetear," which many believe to be Platte River Networks employee Paul Combetta, who was responsible for deleting thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton's private server. He was granted immunity by the Department of Justice and previously invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in a hearing before the committee.
The order is the first step prior to a formal subpoena of the documents. Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said staffers were working to verify that Combetta and "stonetear" are, in fact, one and the same. Numerous media outlets have already noted dozens of circumstantial cues to substantiate the claim.
The committee was also scheduled to meet for a second time to hear testimony from another key IT player in the Clinton email scandal. But, for a second time, Bryan Pagliano failed to comply with a congressional subpoena. And, as a result, the committee voted—along party lines—to recommend Contempt of Congress charges.
Democrats argued that forcing Pagliano to testify publicly in light of his own immunity deal with the Justice Department would be a violation of his Fifth Amendment-protected rights. Republicans, on the other hand, say the immunity deal already protects him from prosecution, which Congress does not have the authority to do anyway.
The resolution of charges states:
Mr. Bryan Pagliano, formerly a Senior Adviser in the Bureau of Information Resource Management at the U.S. Department of State, refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Mr. Pagliano was expected to testify regarding the circumstances that resulted in a failure to preserve federal records belonging to the State Department. His testimony is vital to the Committee's investigation into this matter.
Mr. Pagliano did not appear, much less provide testimony, before the Committee, despite a duly issued subpoena issued on September 8, 2016 that compelled him to appear on September 13, 2016. No legal basis exists for his failure to appear.
Mr. Pagliano was subsequently advised that his failure to appear exposed him to the possibility of being held in contempt and potential criminal liability pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §§ 192 and 194. Mr. Pagliano was notified that the hearing would resume on September 22, 2016, and on September 16, 2016 he was issued a subpoena that compelled him to appear before the Committee on that date. He again failed to appear.
Accordingly, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recommends that the House find Mr. Pagliano in contempt for his failure to comply with the subpoenas issued to him on September 8, 2016 and September 16, 2016.
The resolution was adopted on a 17-15 vote. It will be forwarded to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who will be obligated to bring it up for a floor vote. If it passes the House, the charges will be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who is likewise obligated by federal law to convene a grand jury.
Contempt of Congress is punishable by up to 12 months in prison and $1,000 in fines.
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