Just who is Jackson Cosko, the mastermind behind what prosecutors have called “the largest data breach in U.S. Senate history”?
What are the implications of the Imran Awan scandal and the extraordinary cover-up that followed?
And how do these scandals relate to the recent arrest of financier Jeffrey Epstein?
Luke Rosiak, an investigative reporter with a penchant for uncovering congressional scandals and author of the book “Obstruction of Justice: How the Deep State Risked National Security to Protect the Democrats,” sat down with Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek to discuss the scandals that Rosiak’s exposing: that of Cosko, who gained notoriety by doxxing Republican senators during the confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; the Awan scandal, in which 44 House Democrats’ servers were deeply compromised (and the cover up); and the parallels between these and the currently evolving case of Jeffrey Epstein.
Jan Jekielek: Luke Rosiak, it’s great to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Luke Rosiak: Good to be with you, Jan.
Mr. Jekielek: So, Luke, I asked to have you on to talk about this amazing investigative work you’ve done around the Jackson Cosko case. I mean, it’s just, it reads like a spy thriller—I don’t even know what to call it. But there’s something very pertinent in the news right now, the recent Jeffrey Epstein arrest, and you’ve kind of made a habit of exposing, actually, I’d say, blackmail situations for yourself. What do you make of this whole Jeffrey Epstein situation? … Twitter is going wild. It’s in the news everywhere, and a lot of people seem to be worried.
Mr. Rosiak: Well, the question with Jeffrey Epstein is that you have this very well-connected person that knows people on both the Republican and the Democratic sides, and he’s up to no good. And the people he’s around presumably knew he was up to no good, and, in some cases, may have been doing bad things with him. And so when he goes down, and he’s kind of backed into a corner like a caged animal, the question is what happens next? And if you’ve got both sides in this two-party system that we have, you’ve got potential blackmail material on them, what happens? Do you go scot-free? Are you protected? That’s the question that has come up a couple times during the reporting that I’ve done about people who steal material from Capitol Hill—this Imran Awan case that I wrote a book about where he was clearly a blackmailer on Capitol Hill, and then, this Jackson Cosko case.
So there’s this sense that people talk about every day in the news—how corrupt D.C. is. We all know that. It’s fun to talk about how corrupt D.C. is. But what if you’ve got the inside goods on them? And what if you’re the one person that can kind of blow some things up? Well, then you’ve got some pretty powerful people that are going to have every incentive to protect you.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so it seems like Epstein’s protection is up.
Mr. Rosiak: Yeah. That’s what it would seem like. But when you go through the years, there were so many red flags, there were so many clues that were missed. And there were so many different people that were involved in this. And that’s what you see is this political infrastructure, where everyone’s got their job, and no one wants to be really the one that goes out on a limb to call attention to [that] the emperor has no clothes. What I see again and again in the reporting is that most people don’t want to rock the boat. Most people want to keep their job, and they put their own career above doing the right thing. And I suspect that many different people in multiple different states and in multiple levels of government did that same thing over a period of more than a decade with Jeffrey Epstein.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you expect that there’ll be some explosive exposures associated with this prosecution?
Mr. Rosiak: It’s hard to predict, but that’s how Epstein may try to get out of this—by threatening to expose others. It may be too late for that, as you said. He may blow them up anyway for spite or to try to get a reduced sentence. So that’ll be really interesting—the potential for collateral damage here. And I think we just have to wait and see what happens. But a lot of people are probably waiting with popcorn by their side.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, we’ll be watching this case closely. It looks really horrific on the face of it. So let’s jump to the topic of the day—Jackson Cosko, the former aide to Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.). Attempted blackmail, basically the largest data theft in Senate history, according to the prosecutors. Can you give us an overview of this whole situation?
Mr. Rosiak: Sure. So this is a guy who is the son of a mega-millionaire in California who was a big donor to [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein and all these California bigwigs. And he’s just like a druggie 23-year-old. He’s like a convicted felon for drugs and stuff. And he winds up working for Feinstein and [former] Sen. [Barbara] Boxer and eventually Hassan in the Senate. He’s working in IT as the computer administrator, … the guy that has access to everything—all the hard drives, all the files. He can log in to your emails, he could even send emails as a senator if he wanted to. And so he eventually gets fired for doing something bad. And, I mean, shocker, Hassan hired a felon into the most sensitive job in her office, and he wound up doing something else bad. She won’t say what, but he got fired.
So he starts blackmailing her because he wants his job back, and he wants to make sure that she doesn’t give him a bad reference. So he steals every megabyte of data that’s associated with this office—constituents, social security numbers, staffers credit card numbers. And he goes in and he installs these spy devices in the computers that beam back every time you type—it’s called a key logger. Every time you type, it sends it over Wi-Fi back to him. And so the Senate was being spied on for six months. And this came into public view during the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh.
There was a lot of partisan bickering, I guess you could say. And even though this guy was a Democrat and was blackmailing Democrats, he hated Republicans more.
And so he took this data that he had stolen, which also included the private information of senators, and he posted it to Wikipedia. He was caught in the act by a Democratic staffer. He said [to the Democratic staffer]: Look, I got a lot more, I’ve got your private emails, I got your texts. And if you say anything, I’m going to expose it all out there.
So this is a blackmailer, it’s an identity thief. And he was caught in the act. And it was briefly in the news during the Kavanaugh hearing as doxxing Republicans. And then, the media dropped it because it turns out they’re not actually that interested in these IT scandals, despite Russia hacking our democracy or whatever. When you’ve got a spy in the U.S. Senate using high-tech devices to blackmail senators, it was like a one-day story for the media.
But it was a lot bigger than that. He had everything … and it really exposed a lot of negligence by members of Congress that allowed this to happen. And then really the vulnerability of these people who have all of this material that’s politically compromising on them. [That’s] what happens when it gets into the hands of a nefarious character like Jackson Cosko.
Mr. Jekielek: And these key loggers stayed in place after he was fired and … basically, the Capitol Police missed it? Can you explain that a little?
Mr. Rosiak: Yeah, so there were so many missteps here. So the first thing is when he was fired for the unrelated misconduct—we don’t know what it is because Hassan won’t say—Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) hired him. So he was still running around Capitol Hill. He had still had keys to the offices and things like that.
Mr. Jekielek: I see.
Mr. Rosiak: And then he needed to steal Hassan’s data. So he paid a current Hassan staffer to work with him, to break into the Senate building at midnight and repeatedly. So this was a conspiracy between two separate aides to Hassan. And, basically, he gets caught in the act, and the Capitol Police realize that he’s stolen all the office’s data by using his IT skills. But they never look in the USB ports of the computers in the office, [which is] basic due diligence that any competent law enforcement investigators would seemingly do. And they didn’t catch it. They didn’t know that even after he was busted, he was still beaming data off of those computers.
And so it highlights that the Capitol Police aren’t exactly the FBI. I mean, they’re good at what they do, which is kind of just providing physical security at the walls of Congress. But it highlights the fact that there isn’t a lot of high-level investigative work preventing misconduct on Capitol Hill. And we’ve seen that there’s a lot of it.
After he was arrested, his accomplice didn’t get arrested for six months; in the meantime, another congresswoman hired her. And so no one’s doing background checks. No one’s doing reference checks. And this was actually a former CIA agent who’s now in Congress who hired the accomplice … Literally, you could go on Google and type in this accomplice’s name, and court records would come up showing that she was the subject of a criminal probe for hacking her last congressional employer. … You might think, oh, working in Congress, I’m sure that there is strict scrutiny. It turns out they basically hire anyone off the street. And so Congress is really pretty vulnerable in this modern age, especially with all the computer threats.
Mr. Jekielek: So maybe this has to do with just upgrading around the area of technology as well, right?
Mr. Rosiak: Well, it’s funny because it’s not really the technology that needs to be upgraded. It’s the congressmen. They need to follow the correct procedures, like doing background checks on people, and they don’t. They’re not running background checks on their IT aides. That’s crazy. It’s the training, and it’s the age of some of these people is probably a part of it. And members of Congress tend to be older, and there’s not a lot of people that have a lot of computer knowledge. The Capitol Police don’t have this training.
But in this day and age, computers are everything, and you don’t often think about that. The IT guy’s kind of lowest on the office totem pole, you never really think about him. Who cares about the IT guy? But then you consider the fact that that’s kind of the one guy in the office who can read the CEO’s emails, he can read your emails. … He’s got access to everything.
Mr. Jekielek: So he actually got four years for this. I know the prosecutors were saying they want to really make an example of this to prevent other staffers from doing that. Do you feel that’s a reasonable outcome given the scenario?
Mr. Rosiak: Well, the prosecutor basically said four years is nothing. This guy, as you said, he committed the largest Senate data breach in history. What he did was massive. It was stealing all the data from a huge portion of the Senate. Four years doesn’t seem like a lot for that, but it turns out that the sentencing guidelines that determine how much you go to jail for in federal court … don’t take into account situations like political blackmail. That’s such an odd situation. And it is like something out of a novel more than on an everyday basis when you come through court and you’ve probably robbed a bank or you assaulted someone or something like that. And so it takes into account how much money did you steal? And he didn’t steal any money. He did this to intimidate, to first to blackmail members of his own party to protect himself and then later to politically intimidate Republicans. And neither of those things triggers an automatic hefty prison sentence like 20 years, 30 years—like you would think for literally hacking Congress.
But the Capitol Police, they almost blew the case because … they went and finally searched his house. He had hidden all of the hard drives and stuff in his oven, and they never checked the oven. And so, the Capitol Police didn’t find any of the key evidence, and they didn’t realize that the Senate was continuously being hacked. And so he wound up getting it reduced a little bit by saying: Hey, you guys missed everything, but I’m just going to tell you where it all is. And so they gave him some credit for cooperating.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m sure the Capitol Police will be doing some training, it’s very serious. There’s also this element that was described by the prosecution of self-righteous entitlement. At least this is what comes out in the notes, is he felt like he was right to do all of this, or that’s how he perceived himself. Is that how you read it?
Mr. Rosiak: Oh, absolutely. I mean, he felt that Republicans are evil, and so therefore, it’s OK to steal from them and try to destroy them and put them in harm’s way. And the question is, how common is this belief in our society now? Because it’s come up with Andy Ngo, the journalist who was assaulted by Antifa just a few weeks ago. It’s come up multiple different times.
And the question is: What’s the deterrent to that? And again, he was working in Hassan’s office, and if you remember six months or a year ago, there was an intern who screamed … who cursed out President Trump in the Capitol while on the job. And that was a Hassan staffer, too. So, this culture is … this extreme partisanship that excuses all kinds of assaults and vitriol just because someone is from the opposing party, that seems to become more common in our society. And I think the prosecutors were grappling with—is four years isn’t enough of a deterrent or not?
Mr. Jekielek: Yeah, I know, that’s incredible. I don’t even know what to say when I hear this story. Well, you also have written this book, “Obstruction of Justice,” in which I think you argue that it’s the biggest scandal in congressional history—period. Never mind data theft and everything else, which, of course, is part of this long and crazy tale. You launched this book earlier this year. What has the reception been like? And, also, I’d love it if you could outline this story for us. We’ve actually, with The Epoch Times, we worked together on this, and whenever I think about it, I’m still blown away by that this could happen, that it did happen.
Mr. Rosiak: Absolutely. And then most people have never really heard about it, or what they hear about it is wrong. And, actually, Newt Gingrich said it’s probably the biggest scandal in congressional history, and this is a speaker of the house, so he would know. Throughout 2016, we were hearing all about foreign meddling and hacking and collusion, and it all turned out to be fake, right? Well, the whole time this was a story of actual hacking blackmail, collusion with foreign governments, threats, evidence tampering. I’m so happy to write a book, as opposed to writing about it in articles, because people were telling me forever, this is a movie, this is a book, this is a thriller. And I wrote this book, “Obstruction of Justice,” to be a true story that very much reads like a novel.
And so you can read it for fun, or you can read it even if you don’t care about the topic. It’s just like, this is incredible … it boggles the mind that these kind of things happen without us being told about it. Because what it comes down to is the same week that the [Democratic National Committee] was hacked, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairman of the DNC, her IT aide was a Pakistani guy named Imran Awan, and he was caught hacking Congress that same week. And he was actually hacking the DNC sister group: the House Democratic Caucus. And so it starts with the hack that is very much parallel to the DNC hack, but is met with a very different reception. Because if they would go after Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT aid, it makes her seem incompetent. They can’t blame the Russians.
And so from very early on, the Democrats brought tremendous force to rigging a criminal case in protecting blackmailers connected to foreign spies. … Awan is basically an attempted murderer, an extortionist, a blackmail artist, a con man, and just a truly Machiavellian figure. And just like Cosko had all the access to one Senate office, Awan had access to all the data of one in five House Democrats, including members of the Intelligence Committee, Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Jekielek: And there’s some evidence that this data went offshore.
Mr. Rosiak: Yeah, absolutely. And so he used his job as an IT guy to physically take all the data and send it off Capitol Hill, which is outrageous. It’s not allowed, and he would take it over to Pakistan. And during this time, he set up various money laundering entities, one of which was called CIA LLC. And he used this company called CIA to take money from Hezbollah, while he was working for members of the Intelligence Committee.
And so this is going on for like a decade leading up to 2016. And his own business partner in Pakistan says that he was giving USBs of data to Pakistani intel as well. And there is evidence that he had tremendous political power over there, traveling in a motorcade … with armed guards and limousines and things like that. And so he was getting power in Pakistan in some way because of his job on Capitol Hill.
And so this is just a frightening, frightening story about members of Congress who I believe were being blackmailed, probably still being blackmailed by an IT guy who they ushered into their office, because he was a very charismatic guy. And then he turned around and started using it to control them.
The problem is that this started to emerge during the heat of a presidential election. And so, even though the Democrats were the victims here, they made the decision that they just had to make this go away so that they couldn’t have a distraction, focus on Russia, victimizing them and not have this unvetted IT guy from Pakistan that they had brought in, who had turned out to be stealing all their data because their own negligence.
Mr. Jekielek: How long ago did anyone get wind that there was an issue? How did that happen? And then, also, how did you figure out that this is a story?
Mr. Rosiak: For a couple of years starting in 2014, Democrats had been saying, including some high-level Democratic staffers had been saying, these guys are stealing all these computers and stuff like that. These computers are disappearing, like hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mr. Jekielek: So someone was taking stuff.
Mr. Rosiak: Well, then they knew who it was. It was Awan and his family members. They put his family members on the payroll in no-show jobs and stole millions of dollars that way. And so computers started disappearing, and, at one point, they turned up in an elevator shaft, if you can believe that, another thing right out of like James Bond. So Democrats were saying, we’ve got to fix this. This is not right. And they got the sense, those whistleblowers, that someone was protecting these guys from pretty high up. And so in 2015—
Mr. Jekielek: You think this is because there was a blackmail situation already?
Mr. Rosiak: Yes, it’s complicated because some of the Democrats were in a kickback scheme, where they were stealing the computers and reselling them, and there was money exchanging hands. That’s how it started. And then once the Democrats get involved in this kickback scheme, then they escalate to a blackmail, and they just have to do whatever they say. And there’s … all this is documented. And so, and this is high-level Democrats who were going to the police and saying … so Yvette Clark is a congresswoman from Brooklyn, and so her deputy chief of staff went to the police and said: My chief of staff is engaged in a criminal kickback scheme with the IT guy. And, sure enough, they looked and $120,000 of computers were missing. That’s enough for 15 computers for every staffer. This is a Brooklyn congresswoman. Now, she didn’t say anything.
She protected the guy. She refused to fire him. They actually fired the chief of staff when it got too bad because they knew he did it, but they were too scared to fire the IT guy. And so, Clark was kind of the first congresswoman who, in 2015, this theft scheme emerged and she covered it up.
And then you go on a little longer into 2016, and at that point, it’s become really a blackmail operation where the Democrats are eager to suppress it because now, we’re in election season. And so after they find out that he’s ransacked Clark’s office and stolen all the computers, they start looking into: Well, these guys are the IT guys. What if they didn’t just steal money? What if they stole data? And so sure enough, they found that these guys had taken all the data from the House Democratic Caucus server, which is a key server for the Democrats.
But we’re in election season now. And so they make excuses. The Democrats figure out how to make excuses, and delay and delay and delay. And there’s memos at this point from the sergeant-at-arms, which is the top cop in Congress and other officials who are saying—and I have the memos and they have a headline: Urgent matter, urgent security matter. The House is being breached. These guys are stealing data. They’re stealing money. We must act. You have to change every lock in the House of Representatives. And they ignored them. And the only reason for that was to basically wait for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency. And so—
Mr. Jekielek: But wait a second, I mean, these urgent notes were just going to the Democratic side?
Mr. Rosiak: No. So the interesting thing here is that the Republicans had missed a lot of the clues for a long time. So that when the computers were disappearing and all kinds of other rules were being violated—and they didn’t do background checks on these guys, either—the Republicans were in charge of the House under Paul Ryan. And so the Republicans got pretty squirmy because they saw what was happening and how bad it was. And they saw that they had failed to act previously.
So they got pretty self-conscious and the Democrats were manipulating … the Democrats were pressuring the Republicans saying: We’re going to blame you. And so between that and a lot of scheming—which is outlined in the book—pretty Machiavellian tricks, kind of dirty tricks by Nancy Pelosi and her top manipulators. The Republicans were both tricked and made some very, very bad decisions under Ryan, where the Democrats were basically put in charge of this investigation. And part of it was, look, they’re our staffers, we won’t cooperate unless you put us in charge.
So that’s what they did, which was a very bad choice. And so they waited until after the election. And that means that for six months, the House of Representatives was being hacked the whole time during the election that we were hearing about Russia, Russia, Russia. They knew that Pakistanis were hacking the House of Representatives, and they let them keep doing it for no reason other than they didn’t want this to hit the news, and this to impact the election.
Right after the election, they say, fine, we’ve got to do something. And they go in … they go to collect that server, the House Democratic Caucus server. And they say, my God, it’s gone. They stole the server, they physically took the server and walked it out of Capitol Hill. That is, kind of, your first example of evidence tampering.
And as the story goes on, there are so many examples of evidence disappearing, witnesses being threatened, and things like that. And it’s just not only Awan doing this, the Democrats are doing it, too. So this book becomes sort of a case study in how they do the thing that The Epoch Times has documented so well on Spygate: rigging a criminal case for political purposes. So my book, “Obstruction of Justice,” is a blueprint for how they do it. And it takes you really in tremendous detail, and it shows the obscure staffers that you wouldn’t know are so powerful, you never heard their names before, but how they do it. And they work using charm, threats, and one-on-one relationships and knowing all the backdoors in government and how things work. They manage to manipulate the results of a criminal investigation, knowing that if you can rig the criminal case, then the media will not be able to cite that, and they won’t really cover it.
And so once you’ve got the narrative, and you’ve got the criminal aspect, the Democrats basically exert tremendous control even when they’re not in charge. And to me, that’s the essence of the “Deep State.”
Mr. Jekielek: That’s absolutely fascinating. Tell me, you actually had a very insider source for your book. Can you tell me a little bit about that and how that happened?
Mr. Rosiak: Sure. It’s funny because when I started writing about these things, it was all Democratic whistleblowers who were very concerned about this guy that they … many staffers told me, “He stole my computer and pretended he lost it in my laptop with all my congressional emails.” Everyone had the exact same stories. And so I’m writing about this and the spokesman and the members of Congress will try to be like, “That guy must be Republican, and he’s just out to get me because we’re Democrat.” Which is a silly thing to say because these members of Congress, like Clark, they’re in all-blue districts. Even Clark is a corrupt incumbent who would be replaced if she lost by someone more like [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez]. It’s not about party. None of this is. And so you start realizing these are just corrupt, entrenched insiders who want to keep their job.
And so they hide behind the smokescreen of Islamophobia because racism is always convenient. These guys were from Pakistan, so that was a good excuse, or partisan bias. And the whole time, what people didn’t realize, and I couldn’t say it at the time, was his own wife was a source of mine. And that’s in the book. To Awan here, the woman who slept next to him every night is telling me everything that’s going on. And she says he’s a blackmailer: He’s stealing data from Congress, he’s blackmailing. I wanted to go to the FBI, but he threatened to murder me and my entire family if I did.
And so I had a tremendous burden on, I shouldn’t say me, because these heroes like her were going through so much and making these decisions, and they thought we’re in American now—because these are people that emigrated from Pakistan hoping for a better life and hoping for less corruption. And so his stepmother, as well, came to me and said: I’ve been held in captivity for six months. He was using his IT skills to monitor my every move. And he said, if I went to the FBI, my whole family would be killed in Pakistan.
So we have this guy who we know is stealing all this data from Congress, and Congress has being very sketchy about it, protecting him. And then we know from his personal life two things about this guy: that he uses his IT skills to monitor you with tapping your phone, putting hidden devices in your house, and then he uses that to blackmail you. So this is a blackmailer who has infiltrated the U.S. Congress, and I think, the biggest scandal in congressional history.
And it comes from people who are his own relatives. People who are, of course, Pakistani. I don’t know their politics, but it wasn’t the way that the Democrats very cynically played it out to be. They called it a conspiracy theory because he was never charged with this stuff, even though the cops knew that he did it. And my book explains what the cops knew and how it came that he wasn’t charged. But they called it a conspiracy theory, racist, partisan, sexist, somehow. And, of course, the sources the whole time are these Pakistani Muslim women who are his relatives. Those are some of the sources, in addition to Democrats on Capitol Hill. And so it was a surreal experience for two years to be getting information from his stepmom and from his wife. And they all said the same thing. And other family members too: “This is a blackmailer, this is a guy who will do anything for a cent. And he is a threat to the United States.”
And that was his own family coming here. And they thought that the U.S. was less corrupt than Pakistan, that you couldn’t use political connections to shield yourself the way you can in Pakistan. And they found that they were wrong.
I learned a lesson there, too. When you have someone who is politically connected, you can do some of the worst things imaginable, and you will be protected. The things that are in this book will change your perception of the FBI. The FBI is doing things in this book that are like from a banana republic. They’re threatening … they went to his wife’s house … so when Awan is in court, they give him a plea deal—a very favorable plea deal that since he’s never done anything wrong in his life except for one minor, unrelated thing—and they give him immunity. And the wife is trying to go to court, and the FBI stands in front of her house and makes sure she can’t go and testify to the contrary. The cops lose evidence and then other evidence they accidentally give to Awan himself.
This is a story on one hand about a very nefarious Machiavellian IT guy who was just a sheer villain. But then, on the other hand, this is a story about our institutions in the United States and whether we can trust them. So when we read about Spygate in The Epoch Times and elsewhere, and we think about what a huge deal that is, and then you read this book “Obstruction of Justice” and you say: “Well, I never really heard anything. I might’ve heard one or two things about Awan, but my God, I never knew all these things occurred.” That’s the point. That’s the point. We were not supposed to know about Spygate either.
And so this was—the Awan case—I think not only the biggest scandal in congressional history, but also the most successfully concealed of the 2016 scandals. It was for the exact same reason to rig a criminal case to protect Democrats so that Hillary Clinton could win the election, and they got away with it. They pulled it off so well that if you haven’t read the book, “Obstruction of Justice,” you don’t realize the sheer savagery and the banana republic tactics that went on by people who are still in office.
And that makes me wonder what else has happened, Jan. I mean, what other scandals that you and I might not even know the first inkling of might be going on, and precisely because of these techniques that we see them do—rigging and manipulating and intimidating—we just don’t know that they’ve even occurred.
Mr. Jekielek: Unbelievable. We actually did one of our patented infographics about the Awan scandal in collaboration with you. It’s an unbelievable, unbelievable story. Actually, there’s one thing I wanted to give you a chance to speak. You mentioned that Clark, you’ve described her as corrupt, kind of categorically. I wanted to offer you an opportunity to speak to that so people don’t accuse you of being defamatory or something like that.
Mr. Rosiak: Well, sure. [About] Clark, $120,000 of computers went missing from her office, and her deputy chief of staff told law enforcement that the chief of staff had stolen it, working in conjunction with the IT guy. They went in and they looked at the receipts, and what they were doing was changing all the receipts so that everything showed up as petty cash. So if you bought a computer and it costs $2,000, they would change it so that it showed that the computer only costs $499. The reason is because anything under $500 is treated as petty cash, and you can walk out the door.
And so this was a theft scheme that went on in Capitol Hill, and it’s proven. When you’ve got government invoices whose financials are changed, that’s called fraud. When you’re losing equipment—when you’re stealing it—that’s theft.
And so these are the kinds of things that a first-year prosecutor could prove. You look at the piece of paper, you say, no, the computer didn’t cost $499, boom, go to jail; it’s fraud. And so this is a member of Congress who wasn’t trusted with taxpayer dollars, and a significant portion of her budget—10 percent of her budget—went missing because of what she knew to be theft or suspected to be theft. All indications were that it was a theft scheme. And so when the investigators started asking around, she agreed to cooperate, and then she fed all that information back to the suspect. So she was milking the investigators: “What do you know, what are you going to look at next? How much proof do you have?” And she was feeding that back to the suspects.
And she’s on the Ethics Committee, by the way. And so this was … and Paul Ryan is responsible here. … Back in the ’90s, there was an infamous scandal, it seems maybe tame by today’s standards, but it was a big deal back then. It was called the House check-kiting scandal and the House banking scandal. The members of Congress figured out how to skim small amounts of money off their taxpayer accounts and turn it into personal cash; a huge portion of Congress got booted out of office because of that.
The same thing happened in 2015 and Clark, because she’s on the Ethics Committee, basically made the whole thing go away. And when she won election, remember she’s in Brooklyn … remember how AOC beat Joe Crowley, who was like a party bigwig. She was the No. 2 example of that. She only won her election by a couple thousand votes. And she came very, very close to being booted out by someone who was kind of just like AOC. This had nothing to do with the party. She just wanted to keep her job. And by suppressing this criminal theft in her office, that’s how she was able to win.
This isn’t a partisan book. When you look at the cover, it seems a little partisan. It’s talking about Democrats and the “Deep State.” But when you read the book, it comes back to the whole Epstein dynamic, which is when you’ve exposed both parties as being either corrupt or incompetent, then you have created a situation where no one is going to be the one exerting force to get you. And so, in this case, the Democrats were in many cases corrupt, and the Republican leadership was tremendously incompetent.
So they had this, basically, a truce. And basically the congressmen of both parties have had a truce with each other where, once you’re in Congress, you don’t personally go after your peers for ethics problems. And they call it like a mutually assured—remember back in the Cold War—a mutually assured destruction. That’s what it is. Because if you go after me for ethics, I know stuff about you, too.
And so what we saw, and to me the most depressing part of this book, is it shows you how the Republicans under Ryan, especially, let people down by, they all want to go along to get along and keep their jobs. It’s not about Democrat or Republican, it’s about the people who are in Congress right now making sure they can keep their jobs, as opposed to losing them to outsiders.
Mr. Jekielek: I think in the 2016 election, to some extent, at least, a lot of voters went out for the 2016 presidential election and wanted to see the swamp drain, so to speak. You have people like Epstein now being exposed. You have people like yourself doing this amazing investigative work, spending years on it. And you have some of these heroic whistleblowers. I see a silver lining here. Are we seeing some kind of shift change?
Mr. Rosiak: That’s really interesting, and I love thinking about it that way. Because in one sense, we’re living in the ultimate cynical time where nothing is sacred anymore, and we’re blowing up all these institutions and traditional parties. But there’s a silver lining to that because people like Epstein who were protected by Democrats and Republicans, we don’t care. We already blew up the Republican Party; the Democrats are imploding. Everything’s going to hell anyway, nothing’s sacred. Let’s burn it all to the ground where people have not lived up to what they need to do. And so I don’t think that some of these traditional party lines are necessarily going to be enough to protect Epstein. In this book, I think that there were people who—whistleblowers who were Democrats. And I said that’s the irony as they tried to act like this was some sort of partisan conspiracy.
These were all Democrats who are deeply concerned about Awan, the IT guy. And there’s a quote in the book’s introduction that says: These whistleblowers were shot at, harassed, mocked, abused, threatened, and given ultimatums, and run out of their jobs just for trying to do the right thing. And I hate to see these kinds of perverse incentives, but that’s what makes them heroes. There are a lot of villains in this book, but there’s a lot of heroes, too. And they’re heroes because they did the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. And I do see people doing that, putting aside their own careers and their own immediate convenience to do the right thing. And that’s when it really counts—is to do the right thing when it’s hard. If doing the right thing was easy, everyone would do it.
The other thing is that I hope that this book can be their reward—what I say in the introduction. These people that went through a lot of retaliation for trying to stand up. I hope that telling the truth through investigative journalism, I mean, it’s just all I can do. It’s my small part to … in this day and age, we have a short attention span, and we have the TV networks talking about the same thing all day long. And Twitter, it’s this kind of attention deficit disorder. And to stay on something and see the truth through even when other people on all the TV networks are not giving us the time of day, because I know that it’s a big story and the other people who are involved know that this is probably the biggest scandal in congressional history, I think that’s really important [today]. And that’s something that I want people to remember is that we need to break out of that herd mentality, whether it’s partisanship or whether it’s the news all following the same little story of the day, like 5-year-olds playing soccer, because investigative journalism is important to [hold] people of both political parties to account.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, this is a very powerful place to end, and actually I know that our viewership on American Thought Leaders is going to be very excited about this episode, because this is exactly the kind of stuff they come to us for. Thanks so much for being with us, Luke.
Mr. Rosiak: Thank you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.