House Conservatives Want To Know How Rogue IT Staffers Got Away
House conservatives want to investigate three IT employees, all brothers, suspected of compromising the networks of Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Conservative Republicans — disappointed in House Democrats for hushing up the issue and in the media for failing to widely report the story — hope the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (HOGR) will examine how House Democratic offices allowed the potential breach in national security information.
The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group was first to identify suspects Abid, Imran and Jamal Awan, who are under a U.S. Capitol Police criminal investigation for their use of congressional IT systems and alleged theft and over-billing of computer equipment. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs Committee Members Compromised By Rogue IT Staff)
“I’m for an investigation — I hope to do it,” Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said Tuesday during Conversations with Conservatives on Capitol Hill. He later added he hopes to discuss a possible investigation with HOGR chairman and Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, and Florida Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, chairman of HOGR’s Subcommittee on National Security.
The Awan brothers were abruptly relieved of their duties as shared IT workers among Democratic House offices and barred from House networks earlier this month.
Among members whose systems may have been compromised is Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was also the target of an email hack while she served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) during the 2016 campaign. South Carolina Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan said Congress particularly needs to investigate what information was compromised after last year’s DCCC hack.
Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry, who sits on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the ongoing Capitol Police investigation precludes a public hearing now, but he wants to do everything he can to protect national security information.
“I want to make sure that from my standpoint — since I’m not really hearing anything in the press — I want to make sure I’m doing all I can to secure the nation,” Perry said. “And if these folks are trading in secrets based on the committees that they’re dealing with, we need to know that. I don’t want this to be swept under the rug.”
Perry, who first heard the story on WMAL radio Monday morning, more than a week after TheDCNF first reported the story, expressed frustration that the media isn’t giving the story more attention and that, in the initial reports he heard, “not one name was mentioned.”
“I asked my staff members if they saw the names because I was curious to get that, and they said yes, but we can’t pronounce any of them,” Perry said. “And I said, is there a pattern? And they said, well, we see a pattern. I think that is a big part of the story.”
Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador also expressed frustration over the story’s lack of coverage, especially given the media’s attention on national security issues under President Donald Trump’s White House. Democrats have repeatedly ignored TheDCNF’s requests for interviews and further information. (RELATED: Congress IT Probe Suspects Had Massive Debts, Years Of Suspicious Activity)
“I’m surprised that the media hasn’t made a bigger deal about this,” Labrador said. “This is pretty outrageous. These are people who had direct connections and access to the House, to intelligence information, and the media has said very little about it. I know there have been a couple of reports, but they’re spending all this time talking about all these other issues. This is actually something that could directly affect the national security of the United States, and I have seen very little reporting, and apparently, the Democrats are not that interested.”
Jordan said the story raises other concerns, too, like how Jamal earned nearly $160,000 a year — three times the salary of the average House IT worker — as a 22-year-old staffer.
“Some of this stuff just didn’t pass the basic smell test, just some of the basic things we should investigate as well, not to mention the things that Mr. Labrador and Mr. Duncan were saying,” Jordan said.
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