John Bentel, the man who oversaw then-Secretary Hillary Clinton’s technology at the State Department, refused to answer questions about his knowledge of her activities in a sworn deposition Monday, according to Judicial Watch.
Mr. Bentel had protected Mrs. Clinton during her time in office, assuring lower-level employees that her use of a secret email account had been approved, according to an inspector general’s audit. In fact, the FBI found that Mrs. Clinton didn’t ask permission and nobody had approved her arrangement.
Ordered by a judge to explain his conflicting testimony, Mr. Bentel instead demurred, declining to answer some 90 questions posed by lawyers from Judicial Watch, a conservative law firm that has sued to get a look at Mrs. Clinton’s secret emails.
He becomes the latest IT person to refuse to answer questions in the Clinton email case, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Also refusing to answer questions under oath, either in court or to Congress, were Bryan Pagliano, who worked for both the Clintons and the State Department and helped personally maintain the email server at her home in New York, and two employees for the Colorado company that wiped the server clean.
“The fact that yet another State Department official took the Fifth highlights the disturbing implication that criminal acts took place related to the Clinton email and our Freedom of Information Act requests,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch.
Mr. Bentel told the congressional probe into the 2012 Benghazi attack, which exposed Mrs. Clinton’s secret email server, that he didn’t recall her server.
But the department’s inspector general found Mr. Bentel not only was aware of her secret system, but shut down two of his employees who raised concerns about it. In one case, he told one of the whistle-blowers that their mission was to back Mrs. Clinton up, and “instructed the staff never to speak of the secretary’s personal email system again.”
Mr. Bentel’s office was also dinged by the inspector general for failing to manage the email system it did have. Files weren’t maintained or shipped to the right place for records management, meaning agency records were likely lost under Mr. Bentel’s tenure.