Former Democratic Party Chair and Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in a bit of political hot water. Imran Awan, the Pakistan-born IT vendor to several top House Democrats, including Debbie, under investigation since February, was arrested allegedly trying to flee the United States last week.
Wasserman Schultz has been incommunicado the past week meeting with lawyers to figure out why this man was still working for her. So far the talking points aren’t ready for general consumption.
Here are the facts of the story as they are known presently. It grows bigger by the day and has the potential to make heads roll.
1. Awan has been a staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and other top congressional Democrats since 2004. More than 24 Democratic House offices used Awan’s services. Awan’s time with Wasserman Schultz included her entire tenure as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Awan and his family received more than $4 million from House Democrats since 2009.
2. Awan was still employed by Wasserman Schultz’s office until he was arrested last Tuesday night. She only fired him as he tried to make his way out of the country via Dulles International Airport. Schultz knew he was under investigation for what appear to be allegations of embezzlement and fraud.
3. Wasserman Schultz had protected Awan for months. Wasserman Schultz last May appeared to threaten Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa with “consequences” if he did not return a laptop Awan owned that his officers had seized. Wasserman Schultz stuck with Awan, despite his reported banning from the House IT network over the investigation.
4. Awan declared bankruptcy in 2012, yet wired $283,000 to two people in Faisalabad, Pakistan, before trying to make his break. Awan fraudulently obtained $165,000 as a home equity loan from the Congressional Federal Credit Union before making the wire transfer.
5. Awan brought his brothers and wife with him into the congressional IT business. The brothers’ stepmother is reportedly suing Awan for wiretapping and threats to have her family arrested in Pakistan. Awan’s own father, who is suspected of being caught up in his son’s fraudulent financial dealings, appears to have changed his name to avoid being associated with him.
6. Awan threatened a U.S. veteran family to get back the smashed hard drives and other computer equipment now at the center of the investigation. The Marine veteran husband found “wireless routers, hard drives that look like they tried to destroy, laptops, [and] a lot of brand new expensive toner.” The Awan family terrorized the Marine veteran and his Navy officer wife into returning the equipment. The Marine family turned the material over to the FBI.
7. In 2014, CNN published an op-ed by Awan about the perils of “Islamophobia.”
In “Opinion: ‘The Muslims Are coming!’ Why Islamophobia Is So Dangerous,” Awan openly mocked Western news outlets that publish stories on issues that are “used by the far-right into vitriolic hate against Muslims.” His examples of “Islamophobic” stories that should cause no worry include “Muhammad” becoming the most popular name in England and projections that Muslims may soon outnumber Christians in the land of St. Augustine of Canterbury.
Now come the lawyers for Awan. Naturally he is portrayed as a victim with hints of “Islamophobia” thrown in. When in doubt or peril, throw the race card into the fold. His lawyers say, “This is clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim,” Chris Gowen, Awan’s attorney, told Politico.