The Democrats' IT Scandal
After spending a year digging into the Democrats' covered up I.T. scandal in Congress, I happen to know there is a lot here that Americans aren't being allowed to know. If all this group of I.T. administrators from Pakistan did in Congress doesn't get out, then much of our freedom, which is wrapped up in this story, will be impacted.
The cover-up has been so effective that this isn't happening. Imran Awan, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)'s I.T. aide, got off without jail time or restitution on only bank fraud charges. Congress got off without paying the price for possible corruption and for allowing a spy ring to run free in Congress. We can't even be sure that Congress has made the necessary reforms to stop another spy ring from infiltrating and spying on Congress and thereby using stolen data to blackmail a congressman, influence a vote, or just know where members of Congress stand on various pieces of legislation, all of which can impact us.
Emails and other data also could be used by a foreign intelligence service, such as Pakistan's ISI, to see where our representatives stand on funding being allocated to a given country or on other issues – and, according to sources, that is exactly what likely occurred in this case.
Some sources, most notably current I.T. aides who work for congressmen, have told me that security protocols have been tightened and that they don't think other I.T. aides will be able to get in the door again without first passing background checks. Nevertheless, Capitol Police won't confirm this or even answer if the laptop they'd found and held as evidence – the one Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of Capitol Police with "consequences" over if it wasn't returned promptly – has now been given back to Wasserman Schultz.
The government has conveniently managed this cover-up to protect itself.
Just imagine what might come out if the 44 House members who'd employed Imran Awan or one of his associates had to testify in public hearings – something Republican House leadership opted not to have.
What might come out if a real investigation took place and if charges were filed for the computer equipment missing from congressional offices – some of which was found in at least one home Awan rented? What if an ethics investigation did take place to find out why Wasserman Schultz kept paying Awan even after he'd been booted off the House network for giving false data (an image of a fake server) to Capitol Police?
Might we find out if some of these members of Congress used the slush fund to pay off staffers who'd accused them of sexual harassment? Might we find even worse things?
To keep all they're hiding from coming out, the investigations done by the FBI, Capitol Police, and the House inspector general were largely smothered and then covered up with a sweetheart plea deal agreement that very provably is based on misinformation.
Anyone who reads the FBI affidavit used to indict Imran Awan can plainly see that even a prosecutor working on his first case wouldn't have had any trouble getting a conviction for the bank fraud charges. Yet the Department of Justice opted to plead the crimes down to one count of making one false statement on a home equity loan application.
The plea deal agreement even stipulated that Awan "will not be charged" for any other nonviolent crime he had already disclosed to the DoJ – just what he disclosed, the DoJ won't say.
Just like that, the DoJ tried to make this case go away.
Oddly, this plea deal agreement says "the Government has found no evidence that your client [Imran Awan] illegally removed House data from the House network or from House Members' offices, stole the House Democratic Caucus Server, stole or destroyed House information technology equipment, or improperly accessed or transferred government information, including classified or sensitive information."
There is a lot of evidence showing otherwise. Some of the missing House devices were found in a garage by a tenant of Imran's (Andre Taggart). Also, $120,000's worth of equipment had been written off from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)'s office. Even a House I.G. report shows that the Awans were copying and illegally accessing data from the congressmen they worked for.
When this plea deal agreement was explained in court, I sat flabbergasted.
When I asked DoJ prosecutor J.P. Cooney why the government made this odd deal when it clearly had Imran cold on the bank fraud charge, especially given that it didn't get anything in return, he just smiled and waved me away, as if it was all a big joke.
The court scene didn't just smell like a cover-up by the establishment; it reeked of corruption in Congress and the DoJ. This is clearly a political deal arranged to protect the establishment from further embarrassment and reform.
Real court scenes (when he pleaded guilty, Imran Awan waived his right to a trial by jury), possible depositions of House staffers and members of Congress, and the investigations that would take place if the DoJ did pursue additional charges would have necessarily dug into a lot of things the Washington establishment would rather not deal with publicly. It also would have forced investigators to follow the trail to Pakistan – something the U.S. intelligence community would rather avoid.
The deal also gave the many mainstream media members who had downplayed and ignored this case (a few sources told me they'd brought detailed information to the Washington Post but that the Post ignored the information) cover and a reason to thumb their noses at the few media members who'd done serious work on this case.
It is unclear how this deal was struck inside the DoJ. Cooney, who managed the plea deal hearing, had just been put on this case a few days before. The previous DoJ attorney, Michael Marando, wasn't even in the courtroom.
If President Trump really does want to drain the swamp – and he has tweeted about this case many times and even called Imran Awan the "Pakistani mystery man" – then his administration should demand an investigation by the Office of Inspector General into how this plea deal was made. The I.G. should also look into what actually happened in Congress.
After all, former CIA analysts, including Clare Lopez, who is now vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy, told me this has all the signs of a spy ring backed by Pakistan's ISI.
Awan certainly did behave as a spy.
"Some of the I.T. administrators who've taken over the congressional offices Imran Awan did I.T. for told me the iPhones officially assigned to House staffers had Imran Awan's email address listed as the phones' Apple IDs," a current House I.T. aide told me. "The only reason I can think of for why he would do that is this would have given him the ability to see everything these staffers were doing."
This isn't how House I.T. administrators – or even those who work for private companies – behave. This is how a spy behaves.
After the Awans were booted off the House computer network, an I.T. aide said, "The offices the Awans worked in were trashed. There were no records of the member's computer equipment – this is against House rules – and many of the security protocols weren't up to date. New I.T. administrators had to start from scratch."
This is only a taste of all that was allowed to happen in Congress and how it can affect, and possibly already has affected, our freedom and the democratic process.
The only way to really fix the problems that allowed this spy ring to operate in the halls of Congress is to demand a nonpartisan investigation.
Frank Miniter is the author of Spies in Congress: Inside the Democrats' cover-up cyber scandal.