Perhaps you’ve lost track of the Democrats slowly exploding IT scandal, as much of the media is doing all it can to simply ignore it away.
I’m referring to the strange case of Imran Awan, the IT aide Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., kept on her congressional payroll even after it became known he and his wife, Hina Alvi Awan, were being investigated by the Capitol Police for possible theft, fraud, moving terabytes of data off Congress’s system and more.
Imran Awan was back in court last week. When pushed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Mirando revealed some telling things about this case.
First, I should note that it was standing room only in the packed courtroom at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Friday morning ... okay, just kidding, actually, only a few reporters sat in the mostly empty wooden benches in the back of the courtroom. Anyone who didn’t know this was the latest scene in a slowly exploding political scandal would have thought this was only a forgettable bank fraud case.
The deeper you dig the more it becomes clear this case is about much more than bank fraud.
Awan’s attorney, Chris Gowen, even told me: “This case is hardly newsworthy.”
But before the show started, Imran’s wife, Hina Alvi Awan, entered the courtroom. She had flown away to Pakistan with their children soon after the investigation became known.
Was she back as part of a plea deal?
While Hina Alvi was gone, on August 17, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted her and Awan on four counts, including conspiracy and conspiring to obtain home equity loans for $165,000 and $120,000 from the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union and then transferring the money to Pakistan. (Read the FBI’s criminal affidavit on the bank fraud here and you’ll see why the government thinks it has a strong case.)
Imran Awan is considered such a flight risk that his passport was taken, he was given a curfew and was fitted with a tracking device.
Meanwhile, Hina Alvi’s passport was also publicly taken during the court hearing, but she was officially listed as a “walk in,” a tracking device wasn’t attached to her ankle and the government had asked the court to quash an outstanding warrant for her arrest.
Now came the revelations. Gowen, Imran’s attorney, asked that Imran’s travel restrictions be removed.
This prompted Assistant U.S. Attorney Mirando to say that when Imran was arrested at Dulles International Airport a cellphone found on him “had been wiped clean just a few hours before.”
Gowen tried to counter this by saying, “Awan had recently bought the phone, so of course it didn’t have any data on it.”
But Mirando was ready. He said the FBI found that the phone had been wiped as clean as Hillary’s server. A time stamp on the iPhone indicated it had been wiped at 6:30 p.m. that evening. Also, Imran did have a laptop on him, but one of the few things on it was a resume. Mirando used this and other details—such as the Awans quickly selling many of their Virginia properties—to explain that Imran had no intention of returning.
In another twist, Gowen brought up a computer that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants back so badly she actually threatened the chief of the Capitol Police in a public hearing with “consequences” if she didn’t get it back.
Gowen argued that the computer and documents seized in a bag left in a public area of a congressional building around midnight on April 6, 2017, are “protected by attorney-client privilege.” Gowen hopes to remove this evidence from future court proceedings.
Gowen, however, didn’t answer what Imran was doing in the Longworth congressional building late at night and long after he’d been fired by every Democrat aside from Rep. Wasserman Schultz (Wasserman Schultz’s office isn’t in Longworth).
The deeper you dig the more it becomes clear this case is about much more than bank fraud. Capitol Police are investigating possible theft of congressional computer equipment, massive amounts of data moved off the congressional system, alleged fake computer data created to throw investigators off the trail, and data mined by the Awans that could include emails from many members of Congress and more.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz, who lost her post at the DNC when WikiLeaks published emails showing that under her leadership the DNC worked to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, might be exposed to even more revelations.
Meanwhile, Congress has been asked to open an ethics investigation to answer why Rep. Wasserman Schultz kept Imran on her payroll even after the Capitol Police investigation became known.
So does this sound like a small bank fraud story to you or is it more likely that a lot more is going on here?