A high-level Justice Department official urged a federal court Friday to allow Hillary Clinton's former information technology specialist to keep his immunity deal secret in a lawsuit over Clinton's private emails.
In a "statement of interest" filed in the high-profile Freedom of Information Act case, Benjamin Mizer, head of the Justice Department's civil division, argued that the deal Bryan Pagliano struck with the law enforcement agency could not be made public without jeopardizing the criminal probe of Clinton's private email use.
"[R]eleasing Mr. Pagliano's agreements with the United States could prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation," the Justice Department team wrote.
Pagliano had been scheduled to be deposed Monday by Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog group who brought the FOIA lawsuit, but his attorneys told a judge that Pagliano planned to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights and decline all questions. His attorneys also argued Judicial Watch should not be permitted to film the deposition.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of U.S. District Court asked Pagliano's legal team to provide a copy of the immunity agreement.
However, in the documents filed Friday, the U.S. government weighed in and told the court Pagliano's deal should only be disclosed under seal for fear that the details of his cooperation with the FBI could threaten the continuing probe.
Attorneys for Judicial Watch filed an opposition motion Friday asking a judge not to grant the government's request to be allowed to submit the immunity agreement under seal, arguing the purpose of questioning Pagliano in the first place was to expose the details behind Clinton's private email network.