A former U.S. State Department staff member who worked for Hillary Clinton will not testify before U.S. lawmakers probing the former top diplomat and the 2012 attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, according to a congressional memo.
Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, in which four Americans were killed. The Republican-led House Select Committee is investigating the incident as well as Clinton's use of a private email during her tenure.
In a memo released on Thursday, the ranking Democrat on the committee said lawyers for the information technology aide, Bryan Pagliano, earlier this week told lawmakers he was invoking his constitutional right not to testify.
"The letter from Mr. Pagliano's attorneys expresses concern about 'the current political environment,'" U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings said in the memo to fellow Democrats on the committee. It was dated Wednesday and released publicly on Thursday.
Clinton's campaign said in a statement that she had encouraged current and former aides to answer questions and "be as helpful as possible," according to the Washington Post.
Her use of a private email server based at her house in the New York area while secretary of state has become a controversial issue as she seeks the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in the November 2016 election.
MSNBC reported Pagliano set up the email server in 2009.
According to the Washington Post, he previously worked on Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. Two other committees in the U.S. Senate have also contacted him in the past week, the newspaper reported, citing a copy of the lawyers' letter.
Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, head of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, last month issued the subpoena for Pagliano to appear to give a deposition to the committee.
Representatives for Gowdy as well as Pagliano's lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
Clinton is scheduled to appear before the committee on Sept. 22. Two of her other aides are scheduled to testify this week, the Post said, citing her campaign.
(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn) Photo credit: US Embassy/Flickr