The computer technician who set up Hillary Clinton's private email server for her work as U.S. secretary of state declined to answer questions more than 125 times during a deposition ordered by a federal judge, a transcript released on Thursday shows.
Bryan Pagliano worked on Clinton's previous presidential run in 2008. He joined the State Department's technology department the next year as one of Clinton's political appointees and set up the unauthorized server in her New York home.
The decision to set up the server has dogged Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Party candidate ahead of November's presidential election, and clouded her campaign with legal uncertainty. A majority of voters say they find her dishonest, polls show, with many citing her private server as a reason.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in Washington had ordered Pagliano and other Clinton aides and department officials to give sworn testimony to help him decide whether the server was set up to thwart the public's right to see government records.
Sullivan is overseeing a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group suing the State Department. It is one of scores of such lawsuits filed by individuals and groups who were incorrectly told by the government that Clinton had no emails before the arrangement became publicly known in 2015, two years after Clinton left the department.
"On the advice of counsel, I will decline to answer your question in reliance on my rights under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution," Pagliano said 128 times over 80 minutes in response to a series of questions by a Judicial Watch lawyer. The deposition under oath took place on Wednesday.
The Fifth Amendment gives Americans the right not to be forced to be witnesses against themselves in criminal cases. Pagliano is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice's criminal inquiry on the server arrangement in exchange for a form of immunity from prosecution.
The inquiry, prompted by the discovery of classified government secrets among Clinton's emails, has been underway for nearly a year. Investigators have interviewed several of Clinton's senior aides.
No one has been charged.
Clinton has repeatedly said the server was a mistake in hindsight and that she thought it was allowed, which department officials now say was not the case. She has said she does not believe she will be charged with breaking any laws.
Her spokesmen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Dan Grebler)