Trump Puts Focus on Wasserman Schultz in House Hacking Scandal

July 19, 2018 Updated: July 19, 2018

President Donald Trump says he is disappointed with how the Department of Justice has handled its probe into the alleged hacking of House IT systems.

“[I am] disappointed that they are not looking at all the crooked things taking place … like the Pakistani man who left with these three servers, who knew everything about Schultz,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson aired on July 17.

The Pakistani man Trump referred to is Imran Awan who worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) from 2004 to 2017. Awan arrived in the United States in 1997 under the diversity lottery program.

Wasserman Schultz served as the head of the Democratic National Committee until she was forced to resign in July 2016 from that position after leaked emails showed DNC officials conspiring against primary candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) in favor of Hillary Clinton.

Awan and his family members and associates—who worked for a combined total of 44 House Democrats—were banned from the House IT network in February last year by the House sergeant-at-arms.

Months earlier, an internal investigation by the House inspector general had found that the Awan and associates had made numerous unauthorized logins into congressional systems, including those of 15 House Democrats they did not work for.

The IG had also found that they had made 5,735 logins into the House Democratic Caucus server during a seven month period. The volume was deemed suspicious.

“Excessive logons are an indication that the server is being used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information,” the House IG said in a presentation given to House leadership in September 2016, which has not been publicly released.

The IG also identified a separate server, called “dem11ts,” which was also logged into over 1,000 times.

One of the servers was determined by Capitol Hill Police to have been secretly removed and replaced with an imitation server.

A day after Capitol Hill Police banned the Awans from the House IT network, most of the 44 House Democrats who employed them fired them.

Among the few representatives who kept them on the payroll was Wasserman Schultz. A month earlier, in January 2017, Wasserman Schultz had added Imran Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi Awan, to her office’s payroll, despite the ongoing investigation.

Then several months later, in April, Awan left a laptop with the username “RepDWS” in a decommissioned phone booth in a House building around midnight. The laptop was accompanied with copies of his drivers’ license and congressional ID card, as well as a letter to prosecutors.

Wasserman Schultz actively tried to retrieve the laptop. During a televised congressional hearing on May 18, 2017, Wasserman Schultz told the Capitol Police chief that there will be “consequences” if the laptop was not returned. She repeatedly implied it belonged to a House member.

However, in August 2017, Wasserman Schultz reversed course in an interview with South Florida Sun-Sentinel, saying: “This was not my laptop. I have never seen that laptop. I don’t know what’s on the laptop.”

The office of Wasserman Schultz did not reply by press time to a request for comment on the president’s statements as well as whether she is concerned that her data could have been improperly accessed by Imran Awan.

Prosecutors announced earlier this month that they had reached a plea deal with Awan.

Awan pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud in a deal that ensures he will not be charged with any nonviolent criminal offense committed within the District of Columbia prior to the agreement.

As part of the deal, charges were dropped against Hina Alvi Awan.

Prosecutors contradicted findings by the House inspector general and Capitol Hill Police, saying, “[The] government has uncovered no evidence that your client violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems,” court documents show.

No reason or detail for the divergence was provided.

Trump has called out the Awan case several times in recent months, and for the second time in one week, questioning what happened to the servers.

He has also questioned what has happened to the server at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, which the FBI said was hacked by Russian intelligence officers.

The FBI, however, never gained access to the servers and was forced to rely instead on an analysis by the private firm Crowdstrike, which was hired by the DNC.

“The server was never taken by the FBI,” Trump said in the interview with Carlson. “They went in there and Podesta or somebody threw them out of the office, they said get outta here.”

Trump also said that he has intentionally not gotten involved himself in the cases.

“I don’t want to have people accuse me of anything, so I’ve stayed very much uninvolved. But am I allowed to be involved? Totally. Will I be involved? We’ll have to see as it goes along,” Trump said.

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