By Robert Laurie
Looks like it’s shaping up to be a big day for Washington D.C. deals. First we got word of Andrew McCabe’s desired immunity deal. Now, we turn our attention to another scandal that could end up having just as much of a national impact. This time it’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her now-infamous “IT aide” Imran Awan.
Awan is apparently eyeballing a plea deal, though the terms of that bargain have yet to be made public.
Imran Awan, the former IT aide to congressional Democrats whose federal court case has drawn the interest of President Trump, is poised to strike a plea deal with prosecutors, court filings indicate.
A Tuesday filing said 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.
The filing did not reveal any details about the terms of the apparent agreement. But in court documents last month, prosecutors hinted that a deal could be in the works.
“The parties are currently exploring a possible resolution of this matter,” prosecutors wrote. “Therefore, the parties are requesting additional time in which to explore that resolution.”
You’ll recall that Awan was arrested while trying to escape the country back in July 2017. At the time, he pleaded not guilty to a rather banal bank fraud charge, though many speculated that may just have been a placeholder designed to keep him in the country. Wasserman Schultz had fired Awan the week before, but it was well after his crimes were known. Eventually, she claimed she hadn’t take action sooner because she believed the whole thing was a race-based GOP witch hunt.
Imran Awan, a House staffer at the center of a criminal investigation potentially affecting dozens of Democratic lawmakers, has been arrested on a bank fraud charge and is prevented from leaving the country while the charge is pending.
A senior House Democratic aide confirmed Awan was still employed by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) as of Tuesday morning. But David Damron, a spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, later said that Awan was fired on Tuesday.
Awan pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to one count of bank fraud during his arraignment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Awan is accused of attempting to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a $165,000 home equity loan for a rental property, which is against the credit union’s policies since it is not the owner’s primary residence. Those funds were then included as part of a wire transfer to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
In case you missed it, the juicy bit there is Awan’s unauthorized access to classified and unclassified material stemming from “dozens” of top-level Democrats. The bigger question, which emerged more recently, is why every single one of the 44 Dems who hired the “aide” decided to exempt him, and his cohorts, from background checks:
Every one of the 44 House Democrats who hired Pakistan-born IT aides who later allegedly made “unauthorized access” to congressional data appears to have chosen to exempt them from background checks, according to congressional documents.
All of them appear to have waived background checks on Imran Awan and his family members, even though the family of server administrators could collectively read all the emails and files of 1 in 5 House Democrats, and despite background checks being recommended for such positions, according to an inspector general’s report. The House security policy requires offices to fill out a form attesting that they’ve initiated background checks, but it also includes a loophole allowing them to simply say that another member vouched for them.
Obviously, given the fact that the case seems to be of the “open and shut” variety, everyone is wondering what Awan is trading in exchange for possible leniency. We’ll have more as it develops…