NPR logo Former Clinton Aide Who Built Private Email Server Pleads The 5th

Former Clinton Aide Who Built Private Email Server Pleads The 5th

Rep. Elijah Cummings (second from right), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said it's "certainly understandable" that Bryan Pagliano would be advised not to appear before the committee. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Rep. Elijah Cummings (second from right), the ranking member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said it's "certainly understandable" that Bryan Pagliano would be advised not to appear before the committee.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

A former aide to Hillary Clinton said he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and not answer questions from Congress.

The aide, Bryan Pagliano, helped set up Clinton's private email server. Clinton has faced months of scrutiny for using her home server and a private email address to conduct State Department business.

The Select Committee on Benghazi had asked Pagliano, a former State Department employee, to field questions next week. His lawyer has declined, sending a letter to Congress citing the negative political environment.

Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking member of the committee, said it was "certainly understandable" that Pagliano's attorneys "advised him to assert his Fifth Amendment rights, especially given the onslaught of wild and unsubstantiated accusations by Republican presidential candidates, members of Congress, and others based on false leaks about the investigation."

Former Clinton State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills is being interviewed by the Benghazi committee today. Another close aide to Clinton is also scheduled to meet with the committee this week and the former secretary of state said she will testify in October.

The FBI is investigating the possible compromise of secrets in Clinton's emails. Her presidential campaign said it's confident her email setup was allowed at the time, though Clinton has said she wished she had used a second email account and carried a separate phone.

Clinton's campaign responded that "she has made every effort to answer questions and be as helpful as possible, and has encouraged her aides, current and former, to do the same, including Bryan Pagliano."