From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:
The Increasingly Bizarre Criminal Investigation of Schultz’s IT Aide
I’m not saying it’s more exciting or important than a president throwing a public tantrum against his own attorney general, but could the national media at least briefly turn its attention to the increasingly bizarre charges surrounding that staffer of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz?
Back in February, five House staffers were accused of “stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.”
A few days later, another odd twist was revealed, as at least four of the accused staffers come from the same family: Imran Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, Abid Awan, and Jamal Awan.
Imran Awan was first employed on Capitol Hill by former Rep. Robert Wexler in January 2004 as an “information technology director.” Awan has worked for at least 25 other House Democrats since that time as a shared employee providing technical support including to previous House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, currently the California attorney general.
Then it got even weirder in late May, when Wasserman Schultz had a tense exchange with the U.S. Capitol Police chief during a hearing, appearing to threaten “consequences” over the police’s refusal to return equipment belonging to her that is presumably connected to this investigation.
Wasserman Schultz: “Under my understanding the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate members’ equipment when the member is not under investigation. It is their equipment and it’s supposed to be returned.”
Verderosa: “I think there’s extenuating circumstances in this case, and I think that working through my counsel and the necessary personnel, if that in fact is the case, and with the permission of, through the investigation, then we’ll return the equipment. But until that’s accomplished I can’t return the equipment.”
Wasserman Schultz: “I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and should expect that there would be consequences.”
In a public hearing, a member of the appropriations committee* that controls funding for the U.S. Capitol Police appears to be telling the chief to give her stuff back or suffer consequences!
This week, the case took another dramatic turn when the FBI arrested Imran Awan Monday evening as he was about to board a flight to Lahore, Pakistan.
Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were accused of lying about a housing equity loan to pilfer $165,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union, according to documents filed in the District of Columbia. The couple obtained the loan for a rental property — rather than a primary residence. That money was then wired to Pakistan, documents allege.
Alvi left the country suddenly in March. She pulled their three children from school and flew to Lahore, Pakistan, with “numerous pieces of luggage” and at least $12,000 cash. Investigators believe Awan was ready to do the same with a Monday flight bound for Pakistan, court documents show.
One final utterly bizarre oddity: Wasserman Schultz had him on staff until Tuesday.
Why was Wasserman Schultz so impatient to get her computer back from the Capitol Police if it’s relevant to a criminal investigation? Why did she keep Imran Awan on staff until this week? Who’s got the money now? Did a bunch of longtime Capitol Hill IT staffers risk it all for $165,000?
* This originally said “appreciations committee,” because autocorrect is a vast technical conspiracy to make us all look dumber than we really are.