Imran Awan, the former IT aide to congressional Democrats, including former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is prepared to strike a plea deal with prosecutors, court filings indicate.
A plea agreement hearing for Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, has been set for July 3 before U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in Washington, according to a filing Tuesday, FoxNews.com reported.
Imran Awan, and his brothers Abid and Jamal, allegedly ran a ghost employee scheme along with their wives that took in nearly $6 million over the years. After wiring approximately $300,000 to his native Pakistan in July 2017, Imran Awan was arrested by the FBI at Dulles International Airport and indicted on four counts of bank fraud after prosecutors said the suspects tried to flee the country. He was carrying $12,000 in cash at the time of his arrest.
The indictments were only for bank fraud – not the IT breach – but sources have made it clear that the bank fraud charges are merely a way to hold the defendants, according to Frank Miniter, who says he has investigated the case for an upcoming book, “Spies in Congress.”
In a column for FoxNews.com, Miniter noted the allegations against the Awans include theft of congressional equipment, massive data breaches of Congress members’ emails and espionage.
Sources, he said, told him the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has been looking into the matter since well before Awan and his family members were expelled from the House computer network in February 2017.
Investigators were particularly interested in whether or not anyone else in the congressional offices was involved in alleged improper activity, including Wasserman Schultz and former Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., who employed Awan when Becerra was chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Becerra is now California attorney general.
Trump has shown interest in the case, tweeting about “the Pakistani mystery man” and asking last year, “Whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the DNC?”
FoxNews.com said the filing Tuesday did not reveal any details about the terms of the apparent agreement, but prosecutors hinted in court documents last month that a deal could be in the works.
This week, the Daily Caller News Foundation, citing a House employee, reported that when a House Office of Inspector General cybersecurity investigation found that Awan made “unauthorized access” to House servers, including the House Democratic Caucus’ shortly before the election, Wasserman Schultz screamed at House officials, demanding they kill the probe.
The congresswoman became “frantic, not normal,” “making the rounds” to House officials in an attempt to kill the investigation, the House employee said.
Wasserman Schultz, the source said, cornered House Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko and called him a “f—– Islamophobe,” saying “you will not so much as take away their parking spots.”
The Florida congresswoman has claimed it was “Islamophobia” that sparked the investigations.
Investigators, however, already have concluded Awan and other family members made “unauthorized access” to House servers while working as highly paid IT administrators for House Democrats until Capitol Police began probing them in early 2017.
Awan apparently was close to Wasserman Schultz, telling people she chose the name for his daughter, Leza, a Jewish name, the Daily Caller reported. The daughter regularly rode a horse that Awan kept at a boarding facility.
WND reported in January that the IT aides sometimes even logged in as congressmen to cover their tracks. Authorities said there is evidence the members’ data may have been aggregated onto one server, which then was physically stolen.
Last month, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported Awan’s father transferred a USB drive to a Pakistani senator and former head of a Pakistani intelligence agency, according to the father’s former business partner.
In April, congressional documents revealed there were no background checks conducted on the Pakistan-born IT aides.
No classified information?
Awan remained on the payroll of Wasserman Schultz – who served as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee when its IT network was hacked in 2016 – until he was arrested last July.
The Florida congresswoman insists Awan didn’t have access to any classified information.
But, in an interview with WND in October, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, rebutted the former DNC chair’s claims, arguing that Democratic members of Congress who serve on intelligence committees would, by the nature of their work, correspond about sensitive information.
“The argument is that there was no classified information that was compromised or breached – that’s what they said about Hillary Clinton at first,” he said. “Some of them – like Andre Carson served on the Select Committee on Intelligence – would have access to the highest level of classified information that we have in the United States Congress.”
King said the Democrats essentially surrendered highly classified material to anti-American Pakistani workers who “don’t have allegiance to the United States.”
“The GOP wants to put the government back on its rails again and operating efficiently. Democrats want to pull it down,” he said. “When we hire people to work in our office, I want to make sure I am looking them in the eye. I want to know who’s doing what work and what they’re going to get paid for that. That’s our jobs to do that.
“Instead, they are funneling taxpayer dollars to people who, at a minimum, are not natural-born American citizens. If they’re sending money to Pakistan and absconding to Pakistan, they don’t have allegiance to the United States, either.”
The Awans could be just “a crooked family that found a way to scam the House of Representatives and skim wages out,” he said.
But the worst-case scenario, King argued, is the Pakistani family funneled information or money “into the hands of the Taliban or ISIS.”