Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is caught up in a potentially damaging scandal involving stolen government equipment, bank fraud, breach of congressional networks, and perhaps extortion – but she believes it’s all a “right-wing media circus fringe” thing.
Congressional leaders are moving forward with an investigation into the actions of Pakistani-born IT staffer Imran Awan and Rep. Schultz’s refusal to terminate him until he was arrested trying to flee the country after having wired $283,000 to Pakistan.
“I’m pushing very hard to get a full briefing from Capitol Police as soon as possible,” Rep. Don DeSantis (R-FL) told the Free Beacon. “There’s clearly criminal elements to this and I think there will be more going on. There’s probably going to be ethics issues on why these [taxpayer] funds were spent that [Wasserman Schultz] and others will have to deal with.”
Even after Awan and his associates were banned from accessing House IT equipment, being investigated for theft of Congressional property, and terminated by every other member of Congress that had employed them, Debbie kept paying Awan. The reason? In a Thursday interview, Schultz blamed racism.. or civil rights .. or something.
In the interview, Schultz said that she believed that Awan was being investigated because of race and/or ethnicity.
“I had grave concerns about his due process rights being violated,” she said. “When their investigation was reviewed with me, I was presented with no evidence of anything that they were being investigated for. And so that, in me, gave me great concern that his due process rights were being violated. That there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns that I had,” she said.
The FBI has recovered smashed hard drives from Awan’s home, some of which may be the source of the stolen congressional property complaint. At a minimum, smashing the drives smells like someone is hiding something.
In May, Schultz demanded that an allegedly stolen computer that was recovered by Capitol Police be returned to her – investigation be damned.
“My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee.
“We can’t return the equipment,” Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa told the Florida Democrat.
“I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“If a Member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?” she said.
Police tell her it is important to “an ongoing investigation.”
Again, something smells of a coverup and Schultz’s involvement seems deeper than just protecting a staffer.
All five of the suspects lost access to the congressional IT system in February, and all of them were removed from office payrolls except Hina [Awan’s wife] who left the country in March. Wasserman Schultz only fired Imran the day after his arrest and appeared prepared to keep paying him in Pakistan had he not been arrested.
Schultz pointed at Imran’s filing of a leave of absence form and the fact that both he and his wife Huni Alvi purchased round-trip tickets as proof that they weren’t fleeing the country – they were just going on vacation. If that were true, why did Huni pack up all of her possessions and suddenly rip their kids out of school for a vacation? The FBI sees it differently.
Though Hina bought a round trip ticket with a return in six months, the FBI said it “does not believe that Alvi has any intention to return to the United States.”
It is doubtful that Schultz is wrapped up in espionage directly, but it looks as though Awan may have had something on her and might have been using it as leverage. It wouldn’t be the first time Imran had been accused of such.
The man long had access to all of Wasserman Schultz’s computer files, work emails and personal emails, and he was recently accused by a relative in court documents of wiretapping and extortion.
Imran Awan is far from looking like an otherwise good guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Schultz has no regrets.
“I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,” Schultz told the Sun Sentinel Thursday. “There are times when you can’t be afraid to stand alone, and you have to stand up for what’s right.
It is highly unlikely that “standing up for what’s right” is what happened here and it may lead to Rep. Schultz resignation.