Imran Awan, a once seemingly low-level, apolitical Capitol Hill IT worker who was arrested by the FBI while trying to fly to Pakistan, has retained as his lawyer a former aide to both Bill and Hillary Clinton who worked closely with and traveled with the couple.
Chris Gowen began his legal career in Miami-Dade, Florida, a county represented in part by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who employed Imran and for months resisted firing him despite a criminal probe into what Politico described as “serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.”
Gowen is perhaps best known for his work defending a lawyer who a federal court found “submitted fraudulent evidence” to win a multi-billion dollar “judgment procured by fraud” in a lawsuit against Chevron. The court found that the lawyer participated in bribing an Ecuadorian judge to get a favorable ruling in that country’s courts, The New York Times reported.
Pakistani-born Awan was arrested late Monday at Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia before he could board a flight to Qatar and then Pakistan on bank fraud charges. Awan, his younger brothers, Abid and Jamal, his wife, Hina Alvi, and Rao Abbas, his best friend, have been subjects of a federal criminal investigation led by the U.S. Capitol Police and including the FBI since February 2017.
The investigation is focused on allegations the Awan group abused their access as congressional information technology (IT) administrators for dozens of Democratic members of the House of Representatives, including former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.
Gowen described Awan’s arrest as “clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.”
Gowen is a founding partner of Gowen, Rhoades, Winograd and Silva law firm, with offices in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Penn.
His official bio on the firm’s web site notes that he “left the Public Defender’s office to work for former President William Jefferson Clinton and then-Senator Hillary Clinton. Chris was a fact checker for President Clinton’s memoir, ‘My Life.'”
“He also served as a traveling aid for President Clinton’s national and international trips. Chris finished his tenure with the Clintons by directing the advance operations for then-Senator Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.”
Conservative Review — which first reported Gowen’s extensive Clinton connections Wednesday — said they also include work for the Clinton Foundation and its Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
Also noted on Gowen’s bio is his work related to a class-action lawsuit against Chevron, a long-running litigation that culminated in a June 19, 2017, denial by the U.S. Supreme Court of an appeal by the lead attorney for a group of Ecuadorian citizens, Steven Donziger.
The Ecuadorians claimed damages caused by waste disposal practices by Texaco, which Chevron took over in 2000 in a $100 billion merger. Chevron refused to pay $9.5 billion in damages against Texaco levied by an Ecuadorian court. Chevron then took the litigation to the U.S. court system.
But the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that Donziger used improper means in obtaining the $9.5 billion decision. When Donziger appealed that ruling, however, it was upheld by a unanimous federal appeals court, agreeing with the lower court that, according to Bloomberg News, “Donziger and his Ecuadorian legal team offered evidence of pollution they knew was fabricated, coerced an Ecuadorian judge, and even ghostwrote large portions of the 188-page Ecuadorian trial ruling against Chevron, which acquired Texaco in 2001.”
The Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ decisions by denying Donziger’s request.
Gowen’s bio noted that “his efforts on behalf of the lawyers who represented thousands of indigent villagers in Ecuador received national and international notoriety.”
Gowen told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group Wednesday that he is no longer involved in the Ecuador case. He said he left the team “when my client hired appellate counsel – I still assisted the appellate counsel when they had questions.”
Had the Supreme Court accepted the appeal, Gowen said, “my firm would have certainly been involved to what ever level my client wished. We still find that case to be the greatest abuse of the civil justice system in our country’s history by Chevron and its team of lawyers.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Gowen was not a “long-time campaigner for,” but rather an aide to, the Clintons, and that he was on the attorney team that defended Donziger after he was accused of misconduct in the Chevron case, not the team that brought the original suit against Chevron. It is also updated to clarify that Chevron, not Donziger, took the case to the U.S. courts.
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