President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday on the failure to prosecute former Democratic IT aides who the House Office of Inspector General found made “unauthorized access” to congressional data during the election:
Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a “plea deal” to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
Imran Awan worked as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s email server administrator in the House of Representatives. Nearly his entire family then joined the payroll of other Democrats, until they worked for 1 in 5 House Democrats and had — as the House inspector general called it — the ‘keys to the kingdom‘ and ability to access any file.
1. Imran worked for Debbie Wasserman Schultz since 2004 and had the passwords to her devices
A search of his name on WikiLeaks shows the DNC summoned Imran when they needed her device unlocked.
2. During the 2016 election, the House’s Office of Inspector General warned that Imran and his family were making “unauthorized access” to data
A September 30, 2016, presentation alleged Imran Awan and his family members were logging into the servers of members who had previously fired him, funneling data off the network, and that evidence “suggests steps are being taken to conceal their activity.”
The Awan group’s behavior mirrored a “classic method for insiders to exfiltrate data from an organization,” the briefing materials allege. The presentation especially found problems on one server: that of the House Democratic Caucus, an entity similar to the DNC that was chaired at the time by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. The first warning came in July 2016 — the same month Wikileaks published the DNC emails.
On February 3, 2017, Paul Irving, the House’s top law enforcement officer, wrote in a letter to the Committee on House Administration:
“Based upon the evidence gathered to this point, we have concluded the employees are an ongoing and serious risk to the House of Representatives, possibly threatening the integrity of our information systems and thereby members’ capacity to serve constituents…. This could have resulted in Member’ data being accessed by someone unknown and unauthorized by the offices.”
3. Despite the election-time rhetoric about hacking, the Awan group was left on the House computer network until February 2, 2017 — days after Donald Trump’s inauguration
The House inspector general, a distinguished cybersecurity expert, was taken off the case, and it was given to the Capitol Police instead. Months later, police banned the Awan group from the network. The Committee on House Administration put out a statement saying “House Officials became aware of suspicious activity and alleged theft committed by certain House IT support staff.” But the IG report, obtained by TheDCNF, shows that theft was not the primary issue being warned about.
House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to explain the timeline between the July 2016 warning of a cyberbreach and the February 2017 ban. Judiciary Committee member Rep. Louie Gohmert said Tuesday that the FBI knows of witnesses with key evidence in the case, but is refusing to accept evidence from them.
4. Shortly after the IG report came out in September 2016, the Caucus server — identified as prime evidence in the cybersecurity case — physically disappeared, according to Irving’s February 3 letter
Authorities took the disappearance as evidence tampering, they said. Becerra said he won’t discuss the incident because of an ongoing criminal investigation.
5. Wasserman Schultz declined to fire Imran despite knowing he was suspected of cyber-security violations, even though she had just lost her job as DNC chair after its anemic handling of its data breach
Her office claimed Imran could work on “websites and printers” without accessing the network. Watchdog group FACT has filed an ethics complaint saying this was impossible, and a cybersecurity publication called the judgment negligent.
6. After Imran was banned from the network, he left a laptop with the username RepDWS in a phone booth
along with a letter to prosecutors and a copy of his ID. Capitol Police found the laptop at midnight and seized it because they recognized Imran as a criminal suspect. Wasserman Schultz still didn’t fire Imran. Instead, she threatened Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa with “consequences” if he didn’t give it back, implying it was “a member’s laptop.” The police chief refused.
She hired a lawyer to block prosecutors from examining the laptop, then later said, “This was not my laptop. I have never seen that laptop.” Imran’s lawyer then said he “very strongly” believes the laptop cannot be examined because of “attorney-client privilege.” Prosecutors did not challenge that assertion in court. Wasserman Schultz also allegedly screamed at House officials trying to get them to drop the probe, which would have complicated the Russia narrative.
She flew to Pakistan with cardboard boxes of possessions, FBI agents said in an affidavit. They approached her at the airport, but she refused to talk to them. They found $12,000 in cash but let her board anyway, writing they do “not believe that Alvi has any intention to return to the United States.”
8. Prosecutors arrested Imran at the airport after he began liquidating assets
Imran and his wife had wired $300,000 to Pakistan after allegedly both cashing out a federal retirement account and taking a second mortgage under allegedly false pretenses. The FBI arrested Imran at the airport, and he was charged with bank fraud. Democrats have claimed the case is therefore about bank fraud, but prosecutors imply in court papers the bank fraud occurred because the Awans learned they were under investigation for other activities. “Based on the suspicious timing of that transaction, Awan and Alvi likely knew they were under investigation at that time,” prosecutors wrote of the money moves.
Imran’s lawyer is a former aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Wasserman Schultz’s brother is an attorney at the same prosecutor’s office that is handling the case, the US Attorney for the District of Columbia.
9. Connections to foreign entities — a former business partner of Imran’s father says the father handed over a USB of data to a Pakistani official and that Imran claimed he power to ‘change the US president’
The FBI never interviewed the business partner. TheDCNF traveled in Pakistan where numerous locals alleged that Imran traveled that country with an entourage of Pakistani government agents, and routinely boasted about mysterious political influence.
Imran and Abid operated a car dealership referred to as CIA that took $100,000 from an Iraqi government official who is a fugitive from U.S. authorities, according to a business partner’s testimony in a civil lawsuit.
The Awans travel in Pakistan with protection from an armed entourage of government agents, numerous sources in Pakistan said, and their stepmother said in court documents. Relatives said they were sending money and equipment to Pakistani government officials.
After Imran was banned from the House network, an email address that belonged to him, email@example.com, appeared to still be active and invoked the name of a “national security and foreign affairs” specialist for Rep. Andre Carson, an intelligence committee member.
10. Nearly Imran’s entire family was on the House payroll at high salaries, despite most of them having no training in IT — Democrats failed to vet them
All 44 of their House employers exempted them from background checks. Among the red flags in Imran’s brother’s Abid’s background were a $1.1 million bankruptcy; six lawsuits against him or a company he owned; and at least three misdemeanor convictions. One of the employees’ most recent work experience was being fired from McDonald’s.
12. The Awans’ relatives, colleagues and tenants say they would ‘do anything for money’
Their own stepmother alleges they wiretapped, extorted her and held her captive. Imran’s own wife, Hina Alvi, filed a lawsuit in Pakistan in September 2017 alleging he controlled Hina with violent threats. Wasserman Schultz said police might be Islamophobic, but Imran was the subject of repeated calls to police by multiple Muslim women.
13. The cybersecurity investigation started after allegedly falsified invoices first caught administrators’ attention. The Awans’ lawyers said members wanted the records to be falsified and blamed them for a “shocking” lack of IT diligence, suggesting that a trial could be politically damaging for Democrats.
No one has been charged for “unauthorized access” or falsified invoices or even a host of other apparent lesser crimes, and Imran’s court date has been postponed seven times. It is now scheduled for July 3, 2018, a classic holiday weekend “news dump.” No one has publicly reconciled the server logs showing “unauthorized access” and the allegedly falsified financial records with the lack of charges two years later.
14. The Department of Justice says it is seeking a plea deal with Awan — apparently for minor charges — despite the serious nature of the conduct documented by the IG.
This comes after law enforcement accidentally gave evidence to the defense instead of the prosecutors; and despite an allegation that Awan may be currently trying “to hide his money” even as he negotiates.
A list of TheDCNF’s 60 stories is below, followed by a list of all the Congress members to whose data the Awans had access.
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