Notes for Editor(s)
- I don’t know how familiar you are with the story, but it is important that someone who has little familiarity with the Awan Brothers can start the piece and in a very clear manner be told the story and understand the details.
- What I know needs work with this is grammar and overall flow. There also may be issues with writing in the incorrect tense or changing between tenses when I shouldn’t have been doing so.
- Some of the blockquotes are too long and should be more concise and focused on the important/key points
- Look to cut down on when I get too long-winded and might ramble
- There is likely some information that is repeated in multiple sections. If they are small, important points that seems fine, but obviously longer details need not be repeated (Ex. About the Clinton-associated lawyer – I’m not sure where those details fit/flow best)
- HTML – some stuff is in wrappers that shouldn’t be. I can probably figure this out but if you know HTML and see what I mean feel free to clean these spots up.
- Do not hesitate to call/text me with any questions (202) 905-1098
- The Problem – Despite nepotism and fraud, the Awan Brothers received lucrative salaries and had complete access to emails and data from members of Congress.
- An Overview of the Awan Brothers’ History – A litany of legal issues that should have served as red flags didn’t affect the status of their jobs.
- The Criminal Investigation – The Capitol Police delve into the actions of the Awan Brothers including allegations of sensitive data being copied to an offsite server.
- The FBI Arrest – Following reports of the FBI recovering smashed electronics, Imran Awan is arrested at Dulles International Airport attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.
- Democratic Protectionism – Debbie Wasserman-Schultz threatens the U.S. Capitol Chief of Police, Democrats cite anti-Muslim bigotry, and Imran’s lawyer is a longtime associate of the Clintons.
- The Media’s Coverage – Following months of ignoring the Awan Brothers story, mainstream media reports appear, but in-depth journalistic pursuit remains lacking.
“I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again… If there’s one thing I’m going to make sure that I maintain it’s my integrity.” – Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (August 3, 2017)
The election of Donald Trump this past November sent the establishment media into a frenzy. They have since devoted enormous resources in search of evidence of collusion, obstruction of justice, and criminal conspiracies involving the new administration. All the while, the very crimes the media was in search of were being unearthed largely by a single reporter, Luke Rosiak. However, the impropriety did not involve the Trump White House, but rather members of a family of Pakastani descent that earned unusually high salaries while working as IT staffers for members of Congress. These individuals and the scandal surrounding them have subsequently come to be known as The Awan Brothers.
Through their IT jobs on Capitol Hill, The Awan Brothers had direct access to emails and other electronic data belonging to members of Congress. They face a myriad of accusations including secretly transferring data to an offsite secret server and blackmailing members of Congress. One of the suspects, Hina Alvi, fled to Pakistan in March, and another, Alvi’s husband Imran Awan, was arrested on July 24 at Dulles International Airport also trying to flee to Pakistan.
The saga of the Awan Brothers has the makings of a DC political scandal ripe for media attention. Yet despite the salacious details, the mainstream media has largely dismissed or outright ignored the circumstances surrounding the Awan Brothers. The remainder of this article will delve into the known history of the Awan Brothers, the accusations they are facing, and the media attention, or lack there of, the case has garnered. By the end, it will become apparent why the sensitive access possessed and suspect actions undertaken by the Awan Brothers have had some Congressional Democrats nervous for months if not years.
The group of persons broadly referred to as the Awan Brothers consists of three brothers, two of their wives, and one friend. The following paragraphs will serve as an introduction to these individuals.
Imran Awan, 37, born in Pakistan, was first employed on Capitol Hill by former Rep. Robert Wexler in January 2004 as an Information Technology Director. The following year, Awan began working in the office of newly elected Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz who claims to have hired Awan at the recommendation Rep. Wexler. In the years following Imran’s initial employment, two of his brothers, his wife, his brother’s wife, and a close friend all found employment on Capitol Hill.
Abid Awan, 33, joined his brother doing IT work for members of the House of Representatives in 2005. Imran’s wife, Hina Alvi, 33, began in 2007. Abid’s wife, Nataliia Sova, who is of Ukranian descent, first appears on Congressional payrolls in 2011. Rao Abbas, a friend and business associate of the Awans, joined the Congressional payroll in 2012 following a legal dispute in which he had threatened to sue the Awans. Abbas lived in a home belonging to Hina Alvi and a fellow tenant in the home claimed that Abbas appeared to spend most of his days at home. Imran claimed that Abbas had “lost his job at McDonald’s.” The youngest of the three Awan brothers, Jamal Awan, 23, began work as a House IT Staffer in 2014, at the age of 20. Despite his young age, Jamal earned nearly $160,000 in 2015. This is quoted as being over three times greater than the median for someone with his job title.
Jamal was not the only one earning an unusually high salary. For their last recorded year of work, Imran, Abid, and Alvi all earned between $164,000 and $169,000. This high level of salary is often earned only by a Chief of Staff or other top aides. The Daily Caller reported that of the approximately 15,000 congressional staff employees, these four relatives were all among the 500 highest-paid staffers.
The Awans worked as “Shared Employees” meaning that their salaries were paid by numerous staffs. Under this employment arrangement, there were periods when one of the Awans would be on the payroll for over a dozen members of Congress at a time. Each member would pay several thousand dollars per quarter for their services.
During their time on Capitol Hill, the Awans worked exclusively for Democrats. The total number of Congresspersons who have employed the Awans since 2004 is unknown, but in the last six years alone the number has been estimated to be around 80 members. Many of these members worked on two of the most sensitive committees in the House or Representatives, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. From July 2009 until their termination, the Awan Brothers were paid over $4 million. More financial data reported by The Daily Caller:
Since 2003, the family has collected $5 million overall, with Imran making $2 million and Abid making $1.5 million, according to Legistorm.com, which tracks congressional staff data. Of some 25,000 people who have worked in the House since 2010, only 100 have taken home more than Imran.
Following the arrest of Imran Awan on July 24, the New York Times reported that according to both Imran’s lawyer, Christopher Gowen, and unnamed congressional staffers, the work done by Imran ‘was mostly run of the mill: setting up new phones and computers, fixing printers, helping aides and members reset passwords.’ If the Awan Brothers were being paid such unusually high salaries for this type of ‘run of the mill’ work, that is itself a scandal and further evidence of how wasteful Congress can be with taxpayer money. However, as the criminal investigation into the Awan Brothers has made clear, the Awans were involved in much more than basic ‘run of the mill’ work.
The Awan Brothers set up email accounts and computer systems for both members of Congress and Congressional staffers. By way of their administrator level access on these computer systems, they were able to access and view all files and emails on these devices. Along with this access came no oversight of their activity, meaning those who’s devices were configured by the Awans could have their electronic information viewed without their knowledge. Luke Rosiak of The Daily Caller has reported that IT staffers on Capitol Hill have alleged the Awans were transferring data to an off-site server. If this is true, then sensitive information belonging to members of Congress may have been sent from Capitol Hill computer networks to an undisclosed private server belonging to the Awans. The acquisition of this data could have potentially given the Awan Brothers significant leverage over certain individuals on Capitol Hill. The idea of this level of compromise becomes more troubling given that many of the members who employed the Awans served on some of the most sensitive Congressional committees involved with national security.
Further evidence of the high-level access specifically of Imran Awan was made known through emails released by WikiLeaks. A May 4, 2016 e-mail chain shows that Imran Awan knew the password to an iPad belonging to Wasserman-Schultz. Of note are the several members of the DNC in this email chain who were evidently aware of this fact. Wasserman-Schultz has said that Awan never worked for the DNC, but this revelation brings into question whether Imran Awan may have had access to DNC emails and data in addition to having such information relating to members of Congress.
Another WikiLeaks email chain from May 12, 2016 sent by Rosalyn Kumar, who was and currently remains the Deputy Chief of Staff for Wasserman-Schultz in Congress, tells Kaitlyn Lane, another Wasserman-Schultz staffer to get an iPad belonging to Nancy Pelosi for Imran. Earlier this year, Pelosi was asked about the situation involving Imran Awan and Wasserman-Schultz. Pelosi suggested that she wasn’t familiar with the case and didn’t sufficiently understand the situation at hand. Does this mean Pelosi was unaware of Imran Awan having access to and using her iPad, or was she simply seeking to deflect and avoid the questions at hand?
The Awan Brothers’ History
Given their access to Congressional computer servers and unusually high salaries, one would assume the Awan Brothers would have been subject to intense screening prior to being employed as well as being subjected to regular reviews. We know Imran Awan was the first of the Awan Brothers to gain Congressional employment through former Representative Robert Wexler in 2004, but how he earned this job and his prior history remains very much a mystery.
With that said, the Awan Brothers had a myriad of red-flags in their background that should have brought their employment status into question throughout their years on Capitol Hill. When all of these issues are added together, their status as high-level Congressional employees seems almost inconceivable. What agencies and individuals signed off on the Awan Brothers job status? Did the Office of Personnel Management know about and sign off on their employment? Was the FBI at any time aware of any of the issues related to the Awans? These are questions in desperate need of answers.
The remainder of this section will detail the legal issues and questionable business dealings involving the Awan Brothers.
Both Imran and Abid Awan have a documented history of driving violations. Abid also has a record of alcohol related offenses which includes drunk driving.
Abid’s record includes numerous driving- and alcohol-related legal problems, including driving with a suspended or revoked license, court records show. He was found guilty of drunk driving a month before he started at the House, and was arrested for public intoxication a month after his first day.
Imran has also been convicted of driving offenses serious enough to rise to the level of criminal misdemeanors, as well as using an illegal radar detector and driving an unregistered vehicle.
Cars International A
One of the strangest dealings of the Awan Brothers involves a failed car dealership run by Abid from November 2009 – September 2010. Cars International A, LLC, oddly referred to as “CIA,” accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt which eventually led to Abid filing bankruptcy. While running ‘CIA’, Abid still managed to earn around $150,000 for a years work on Capitol Hill.
‘CIA’ was said to have poor management and record keeping. Additionally, the dealership faced accusations of stealing both money and vehicles. Rao Abbas threatened to sue the Awans over legal disputes involving ‘CIA’. It was shortly after this time that Abbas first made his way onto the Congressional payroll.
The Awans faced an additional lawsuit related to ‘CIA’ for being in debt $400k to creditors. The legal documents related to this lawsuit can be seen (here). Involved in that lawsuit was a man with a questionable history of his own, Dr. Ali al-Attar, who had loaned $100,000 to ‘CIA’ which the Awans failed to repay.
How the Awans became connected with Dr. Ali al-Attar is unknown, but their connection to the current fugitive of the United States should have raised suspicion if/when it was discovered on Capitol Hill.
Al-Attar, who was born in Iraq, ran numerous medical practices in Maryland and Virginia before having his license revoked for “questionable billing practices.”
In April 2009, his license to practice medicine was suspended by the Maryland State Board of Physicians due to “questionable billing practices.” Al-Attar refused to cooperate with the Board in subsequent investigations, which included inquiry into the level of care he was providing as well as his “unprofessional conduct” relating to sexual relationships with patients. His license to practice medicine was revoked in September 2011.
Al-Attar also came under investigation by the FBI for health care fraud, and in March 2012 he was hit with a five-count federal indictment focusing on his activities between 2004 and 2006. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland who announced the indictment against al-Attar was Rod Rosenstein, the current Deputy Attorney General. Al-Attar potentially faced several years in prison should he have been found guilty, however following the indictment, al-Attar fled the United States for Iraq.
“He’s a fugitive. I am not aware of any extradition treaty with Iraq,” Marcia Murphy, spokesman for federal prosecutors in Maryland, told TheDCNF. “If or when he returns to the U.S., the prosecution will continue Dr. Ali Al-Attar, who is a fugitive from U.S. authorities and has been linked to Hezbollah.
Al-Attar’s connection to Hezbollah comes at least in part from a 2012 meeting in Beirut, Lebanon where he was seen conversing with a Hezbollah official.
Given the criminal history of al-Attar, his status as a fugitive, and his connections to the Islamist militant group Hezbollah, the financial relationship between the Awans and Ali al-Attar raises more questions about extent of their relationship and how they became connected to each other.
The Awans failure to repay al-Attar led to a lawsuit for control of ‘CIA’ which in turn led to Abid Awan filing for bankruptcy in 2012 to discharge over $1 million in debt. It has been reported that by 2010 Imran, not Abid, was the primary manager of ‘CIA’ with Imran acting as the owner of what he considered to be a family business. During the bankruptcy proceedings, Imran’s assets went untouched despite indications that he was controlling the family’s finances as a pooled asset.
Despite the bankruptcy, Abid managed to retain ownership of two homes, telling the bankruptcy court that he and his wife, Nataliia Sova, were living apart and hence needed different residences.
“My spouse and I are legally separated under applicable non-bankruptcy law or my spouse and I are living apart other than for the purpose of evading the requirements of § 707(b)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code,” Abid claimed in bankruptcy documents.
Calling into question whether Abid Awan and Sova were separated is a baby registry with a due date of November 2, 2014 listed for ‘Nataliia Sova’ in Annandale, Virginia. Did Abid and Sova have a child together around this time, and was the claim that the two were separated simply for the purpose of maintaining ownership over both homes?
Real Estate Dealings
The Awans owned several homes, at least one of which was sold within the family for a six-figure profit. Other homes were rented out to tenants who reported strange details relating to their landlords.
One tenant who occupied the top floors of a home owned by Hina Alvi was told by Imran to make rental payments to Rao Abbas who occupied the basement of the same home. Other tenants also reported that they would address rent checks to people other than their landlords.
“I would write the rent to all sorts of different people,” another claimed. While still another tenant said the family insisted on blank money orders.
There are also reports of Imran insisting on cash payments only.
“He only wants cash — for the security deposit, everything.”
In 2016, the sale of a home from Hina Alvi to Jamal Awan proved rather lucrative for the Awan family. The home in question was purchased by Alvi in 2008 for $470,000 and was sold in 2016 for $620,000 to Jamal Awan, who was 22-years-old at the time of the sale. This amount was $43,000 more than the assessed value of the home. The sale, which was financed almost entirely by the bank, netted the family over $100,000 in profit.
All but five percent of Jamal’s purchase, $589,000, was financed by the bank, according to records reviewed by TheDCNF. This means the transaction netted the family $119,000 of the bank’s money even as the house remained a rental property, without the ownership ever leaving the family.
A posting of Fairfax County home sales in the Washington Post also makes note of the sale.
Linnett Hill Dr., 9574-Hina R. Alvi to Jamal M. Awan, $620,000
Treatment of their Dying Father and Stepmother
The potential legal issues already documented bring into question how the Awan Brothers maintained their positions on Capitol Hill. However, the nature with which they exploited and threatened members of their own family provides a look into the ruthless and sinister nature with which the Awans operated.
Their father of the Awan Brothers, Muhammad Shah, reportedly despised the behavior of his sons so badly that he changed his last name to avoid sharing it with them. Their loathsome behavior included stealing Shah’s disability checks. Shah died on January 16, 2017, and in the days leading up to his death, the Awans convinced their dying father to sign documents which would benefit them financially upon his death.
They also had their dying father sign a form making Abid administrator of his life insurance policy, though nothing about the change altered Gilani’s [stepmother] position as beneficiary. However, Jamal falsely attested on the death certificate that his father was divorced, and Abid made himself beneficiary, leading to a lawsuit alleging life insurance fraud.
Days before their father died, the brothers badgered him to sign over assets as insignificant as a $5,000 car — assets they didn’t need, according to a relative. The relative speculated the goal was to make their father desperate enough to sign the Pakistani power of attorney, which would give them access to potentially sizable offshore bank accounts.
The stepmother of the Awan Brothers, Samina Gilani, has alleged serious crimes and threats made in her direction by the Awans. These allegations are documented in Fairfax County Police documents. Below are a summary of the claims made by Gilani relating to the Awan Brothers:
- The Awans prevented her from visiting her dying husband in the hospital many times with Abid claiming she was causing more stress upon the family
- Two laptop computers and important papers were illegally taken from her house without her knowledge or permission
- Her telephone conversations were taped and some other recording devices were also installed/planted in her house
- Imran threatened her saying that “he is very powerful” and that if Gilani called the police again he would “do harm to me and my family members back in Pakistan and one of my cousins here in Baltimore.”
- Imran claimed to have the “power to kidnap my family members back in Pakistan”
- Imran admitted to Gilani that her “phone is taped and there are devices installed in the house to listen to all my conversations”
- That based on his position in the U.S. Congress, Imran Awan was escorted around by police when in Pakistan
These allegations made by Gilani raise questions about the surveillance capabilities of the Awans as well as who they are connected to back in Pakistan. If they were taping phone calls and had installed recording devices in the home of their stepmother, what prior experience/history did the Awan Brothers have with such devices? Is it possible that they had utilized similar surveillance tactics on Capitol Hill, and if so, how would members of Congress have known? Additionally, how was Imran Awan so well connected in Pakistan that he was travelling by police escort? Who in Pakistan was so fond of his work on Capitol Hill that he was given royal treatment when he was back in his country of birth?
Certainly more questions than answers have arisen from taking a look into the known background of the Awan Brothers.
To reiterate, how did the Awans gain and maintain their access on Capitol Hill given their legal history? Did the FBI and Office of Personnel Management never get a whiff of the extracurricular activities the Awan Brothers were involved in?
To conclude this section, here is a portion of an Op-Ed written by a former unit chief in the FBI records division. I strongly encourage you to read the entire piece.
During 2008 and 2009, while serving as a unit chief in the FBI’s records management division, I made numerous disclosures of violations of federal law, rules, and regulations. My disclosures focused upon my concerns with irregularities and departures from protocol in the way that name (or background) check cases were being conducted, closed, and disseminated. These cases were being closed for the sake of expediency. Name checks were being concluded prematurely in order to meet a 40-day name check deadline, known as the “steady state” timetable.
As a result of this practice, the records management division was providing name check reports to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) without following through on identified FBI name check investigative case leads. Case leads included, but were not limited to, espionage, counterespionage, and criminal activity, which could result in a terrorist, foreign agent, or a known criminal being potentially cleared for federal employment. This name check practice clearly sacrificed quality for quantity and jeopardized our national security as well as presented a substantial and specific danger to the public. Incidentally, the FBI’s records management division was being monetarily compensated by OPM for each name check report presented to OPM.
The Criminal Investigation
Having now taken a look into the questionable backgrounds of the Awan Brothers, we will now examine the circumstances of the criminal investigation into the Awans’ activities on Capitol Hill. The allegations include equipment theft, improperly accessing House computer networks, illegally transferring data to an off-site server, and potentially blackmailing members of Congress. The first public reporting on the scandal came in early February 2017.
On February 2, 2017, Buzzfeed and Politico reported that access to the computer network at the House of Representatives was revoked for five unnamed individuals. These individuals were said to have been under investigation since late 2016 by Capitol Police for stealing equipment from Congressional offices and inappropriately accessing computer systems without the knowledge of members of Congress. Two days later, on February 4, Luke Rosiak of The Daily Caller News Foundation, named three brothers, Imran, Abid, and Jamal Awan as some of the Congressional staffers under investigation. The other two Congressional staffers under investigation and barred from the network were subsequently identified as Hina Alvi and Rao Abbas.
In the week following these initial reports, many Democrats cut ties with the Awans. However some members, including Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, did not cut ties with the Awans despite the fact they had all been barred from Congressional computer networks. Rep. Gregory Meeks, who had employed Hina Alvi since at least 2009, did not cut ties with Alvi until February 28. Politico reported that both Meeks and Wasserman-Schultz had friendly personal relationships with Imran Awan and Hina Alvi.
Meeks was one of the first lawmakers [Imran] Awan worked for after coming to Capitol Hill in 2004. In addition, Meeks and, to a larger extent, Wasserman Schultz, are said to have a friendly personal relationship with Awan and his wife, according to multiple sources.
Politico reported that the Awan Brothers were “accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.” Additional reports revealed further details of the criminal probe:
They allegedly removed hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment from offices, including computers and servers, and ran a procurement scheme in which they bought equipment, then overcharged the House administrative office that assigns such contractors to members.
A suspicious detail regarding the Awan Brothers time on Capitol Hill alleges that the family largely consisted of “ghost employees” who did not show up for work but simply collected massive paychecks with the exceptions being Imran and later Jamal. There are also claims by fellow IT employees that the Awan Brothers did not show up for weekly networkers’ meetings or contribute or reply in an email group in which they were members. This further calls into question what exactly what each of the Awans did on Capitol Hill and how members of Congress justified paying their high salaries.
One of the most troubling allegations made against the Awan Brothers is that investigators discovered Congressional information was being copied to an off-site server. It has been alleged that Imran Awan was funneling sensitive House data offsite onto secret servers wholesale. One other detail that indicates the Awans may have been storing data off-site is that staffers’ iPhones were all linked to a single non-government iTunes account.
In the midst of this information becoming public, Hina Alvi, along with her and Imran Awan’s three children, took Flight 708 on March 5 from Dulles International Airport to Qatar and subsequently Lahore, Pakistan. In the July 24 affidavit used to secure Imran’s arrest, FBI Special Agent, Brandon C. Merriman, recounts the unusual circumstances surrounding Alvi’s apparent hasty departure to Pakistan. This includes Alvi having over $10,000 in cash for which she did not fill out the appropriate paperwork which is a potential felony. Merriman wrote that he did not believe Alvi had any intention of returning to the United States.
From the affadavit:
ALVI was with her three children, who your Affiant later learned were abruptly taken out of school without notifying the Fairfax County Public School System. ALVI had numerous pieces of luggage with her, including cardboard boxes. A secondary search of those items revealed that the boxes contained household goods, clothing, and food items. U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted a search of ALVI’s bags immediately prior to her boarding the plane and located a total of $12,400.00 in U.S. cash inside. ALVI was permitted to board the flight to Qatar and she and her daughters have not returned to the United States. ALVI has a return flight booked for a date in September 2017. Based on your Affiant’s observations at Dulles Airport, and upon his experience and training, your Affiant does not believe that ALVI has any intention to return to the United States.
With Alvi potentially facing felony charges for the undisclosed cash, FBI agents had ample reason to prevent Alvi from boarding her flight. If charged, Alvi’s mishap could have opened her up to prison time. Given Agent Merriman’s statement that he did not believe Alvi had any intention to return to the country and the fact she may have just committed a felony, why was Alvi allowed to board her flight?
The Investigative Bureau at True Pundit reported that the while the FBI was well within their right to stop Alvi from leaving the country, a decision was made from the top ranks within the FBI to allow Alvi to board her flight. They quote a “well-placed” FBI agent as saying the following:
“This was a call from the top, Comey and McCabe.” “Anyone else would have been held and with that cash she didn’t declare she could have been locked up. The agents at Dulles wanted to hold her but they were told to stand down.”
The next major event related to the case occurred on May 18 at a House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing regarding the U.S. Capitol Police budget. The hearing lasted approximately an hour and 20 minutes, but it was the final exchange of the hearing between a visibly annoyed Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the U.S. Capitol Chief of Police, Matthew Verderosa that garnered attention. Wasserman-Schultz was advocating for the return of “lost equipment” (a laptop) found by the Capitol Police which she indicated was her property. The laptop in question was tied to Imran Awan.
A federal employee with knowledge of the situation and who requested anonymity told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that as House authorities closed in on Imran Awan and his brothers, a laptop used by Imran was hidden in an unused crevice of the Rayburn House Office Building. Wasserman Schultz’s office is in Longworth House Office Building, a separate structure. The laptop was later found by Capitol Police and seized because it was relevant to the criminal investigation, the source said.
This reporting seems to contradict comments made by Wasserman-Schultz in an August 3 interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
She said the laptop in question was issued by her office to Awan. “He accidentally left it somewhere,” a loss Wasserman Schultz said was reported to the Capitol Police. When the Capitol Police recovered the laptop, the agency wanted to search its contents.
She said she has agreed to allow the police to examine the laptop and wasn’t attempting to hide anything. “This was not my laptop. I have never seen that laptop. I don’t know what’s on the laptop,” she said.
In the May hearing, Wasserman-Schultz suggested that the laptop was her property, yet in the interview with the Orlando Sentinel she claimed the laptop was not hers and she had never seen it. Given the severity of the charges against Imran Awan, it is strange that she would go to such lengths to gain possession of this laptop. As Wasserman-Schultz lobbied for the return of the laptop, Verderosa argued that although under normal circumstances the equipment in question would be returned, there were “extenuating circumstances in this case” that wouldn’t allow the equipment could to be returned at that time. As the exchange concluded, Wasserman-Schultz said to Verderosa, “I think you are violating the rules when you conduct your business that way, and should expect that there would be consequences. I yield back.”
(Video of extended exchange below)
Exactly what had Wasserman-Schultz uneasy is unknown, but her story and actions surrounding this laptop, which she now claims belonged to Imran Awan, raise questions. Additionally, her claim that the laptop was ‘accidentally left somewhere’ contradicts the characterization of it being ‘hidden in an unused crevice.’ What is clear is that Wasserman-Schultz desperately wanted back a laptop belonging to Imran Awan of which she claims to have no knowledge of its contents. This aspect of the Awan Brothers saga is strange given the contradictions in details from Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Just days after this hearing, The Daily Caller reported that other Capitol Hill IT staffers believed blackmail of members of Congress may have been at play which may have explained the loyalty certain members showed towards the Awans.
Five Capitol Hill technology aides told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects who police say victimized them. The baffled aides wonder if the suspects are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, to which they had full access. A House IT employee who requested anonymity said tech workers who have taken over some of those offices found that computers in some — but not all — offices were “thin clients” that sent all data to an offsite server in violation of House policies. Additionally, staffers’ iPhones were all linked to a single non-government iTunes account. Another Democratic IT contractor said members “are saying don’t say anything, this will all blow over if we all don’t say anything.” The Awans “had [members] in their pocket,” and “there are a lot of members who could go down over this.”
If the Awan Brothers were in possession of large amounts of data belonging to members of Congress and secretly transferring this data offsite, the possibility of blackmail becomes a legitimate question. This type of sensitive data was being transferred for a reason which needs to be exposed.
Until July 23, the criminal investigation of the Awan Brothers was publicly known only as a U.S. Capitol Police investigation. It was then that Rosiak reported the FBI had joined the investigation and had seized smashed computer hard drives from inside a home owned by Imran Awan. A marine who was living in the home discovered smashed electronics inside cabinets inside the garage. Upon discovery of the equipment, he contacted NCIS who then forwarded details to the Capitol Police and FBI. Later, members of the FBI came to the home to seize the damaged equipment.
In a phone interview with citizen journalist George Webb, the marine said that there were around 20 pieces of equipment total. The damaged equipment included laptops, blackberries, servers, routers, and high priced toner. The marine also said, “There is no question that it was government issued equipment.”
(Marine Phone Interview Below)
The FBI Arrest
On July 24, the day following Rosiak’s report that the FBI had seized smashed electronics from within a home belonging to Imran Awan, Awan attempted to board a flight from Dulles to Pakistan through Qatar. This was the identical flight (Flight 708) that Alvi had taken when she left the country on March 5. However, unlike Alvi who was allowed to leave the country, Awan was apprehended at the airport by the FBI. He was charged with bank fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1344. After pleading not guilty to the charge, Awan was released under a “high-intensity supervision program.”
The conditions of release are that he receive a GPS monitor, he abide by a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and that he not leave a 50-mile radius of his residence in Virginia. Awan was also ordered to turn over all of his passports.
According to the police affidavit, Imran Awan is charged with knowingly engaging in a scheme to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union to obtain money by means of false and fraudulent pretenses. These charges are in reference to a wire transfer request form submitted by Hina Alvi for $283,000 on January 18, 2017. The recipient(s) of the wire were two unnamed individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
A subsequent call related to the transfer between Imran Awan and a representative from the Federal Credit Union made clear the fraudulent nature of the transaction. First, Awan claimed to be Alvi, which was untrue. Then during the call, Awan switched the reason for the transfer from “funeral arrangements” to “buying property” when notified his initial reason may not be acceptable. (Relevant segment from the affidavit below)
On January 18, 2017, at 3:23 pm, a representative from CFCU called (202) 225-0346 and requested to speak with ALVI in regards to the wire transfer request. The person answering the call, who was a male, pretended that he was ALVI. On the call, the representative asked the man to verify the address of where the wire was being sent and the purpose of the outgoing wire. The male speaking to the representative said that the purpose of the wire was “funeral arrangements.” The CFCU representative then stated that “funeral arrangements” may not be an acceptable reason for the wire. The male speaking to the representative then responded that he would look online for an acceptable reason for the wire. After a long pause, the male said that the reason for the wire was “buying property.” The representative accepted that reason and initiated the wire transfer to Pakistan. Bank records show that $165,000.00 of $283,000.00 wired to Pakistan was from the HELOC loan for the Sprayer Street Property.
Chris Gowen, who has worked for Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as the Clinton Foundation, is the lawyer representing Imran Awan and on July 26 he released a statement lambasting the ultra-right-wing media and sitting members of Congress for “unsupported, outlandish, and slanderous statements” and “anti-Muslim bigotry.” Gowen also states that Awan and Alvi were “both abruptly and unjustly fired” and that neither Awan nor Alvi had any intention to “flee the United States.”
The attacks on Mr. Awan and his family began as part of a frenzy of anti-Muslim bigotry in the literal heart of our democracy, the House of Representatives. For months we have had utterly unsupported, outlandish, and slanderous statements targeting Mr. Awan coming not just from the ultra-right-wing “pizzagate” media but from sitting members of congress. Now we have the Justice Department showing up with a complaint about disclosures on a modest real estate matter. To an extent, the situation speaks for itself. Mr. Awan’s family is presently staying with extended family in Pakistan because he and his wife were both abruptly and unjustly fired… Neither Mr. Awan nor his wife have ever had any intention to “flee” the United States. They are U.S. citizens who have built a full life and have a strong community life in this country. They will stand and fight whatever charges are presented.
The claim that neither Awan nor Alvi had any intention to flee the United States runs in direct contrast to FBI Special Agent Merriman’s comments regarding Alvi in his sworn affidavit. Additionally, given Gowen’s statement that Awan had “attempted to travel this week to see his family for the first time in months” with his July 24 flight to Pakistan, it seems odd that his return flight had been booked for a date in January of 2018 and not sooner, as also reported in Merriman’s affidavit. It wasn’t until July 25, the day after Awan’s arrest, that the office of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz confirmed they had parted ways with Imran Awan.
Fox is told that Hse IT staffer Imran Awan is still on Hse payroll for moment under Wasserman Schultz.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 25, 2017
Wasserman Schultz spokesman David Damron: Mr. Awan previously served as a part-time employee but his services have been terminated.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 25, 2017
Given the potential severity of the security breaches involving the Awan Brothers, one would think Democratic lawmakers would want the facts of the case revealed as to ensure future breaches would not occur. However, that has not been the case.
Another Democratic IT contractor said members “are saying don’t say anything, this will all blow over if we all don’t say anything.” The Awans “had [members] in their pocket,” and “there are a lot of members who could go down over this.”
Democrats have attempted to deflect away from the scandal citing bigotry, blaming the right-wing media, and simply citing personal ignorance with regards to the case. (Recall Nancy Pelosi’s response) Additionally, the lawyer hired by Imran Awan is a long-time Clinton associate which begs the questions of who recommended the law firm of Gowen Rhoades to Imran Awan and how vested are various elements of the Democratic Party in mitigating the depth of the investigation into the Awan Brothers? Lawyer Statement Following the arrest of Imran Awan and the subsequent statements made by his lawyer, Chris Gowen, it was revealed that Gowen is a longtime associate of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to Gowen’s biography on the American University Washington College of Law website he has professional ties to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, The Clinton Foundation, and other Clinton related entities.
Professor Gowen worked for Former President William Jefferson Clinton for five years as a traveling aide and a fact checker for President Clinton’s memoir, My Life. He worked on several different initiatives with former President Clinton including: The Clinton Global Initiative, The Clinton Health Access Initiative, The Clinton Foundation, The Clinton Library and the Presidential Campaign to elect then-Senator Hillary Clinton. He directed the operations for then-Senator Clinton’s campaign in Iowa for the 2008 Democratic caucus and served as a traveling aide throughout the primary campaign.
Given the allegations of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz working to rig the Democrat Primary in favor of Hillary Clinton, it raises more attention to the Clinton/Wasserman-Schultz association when Imran Awan’s lawyer has significant, lengthy ties directly to the Clintons. Who recommended Gowen to Imran Awan? Do the Clintons have any interest in the allegations involving Imran Awan? Or is the well documented history between Chris Gowen and the Clintons merely coincidence and entirely unrelated to the representation of Imran Awan? Again while it is impossible to know, this is another aspect of this case that brings about more questions over possible connections and interests than it answers. Politico reported on March 1, Rep. Gregory Meeks who was a long-term employer of Hina Alvi, was hesitant to believe the accusations on the basis that their backgrounds could make them easy targets for false charges.
“I wanted to be sure individuals are not being singled out because of their nationalities or their religion. We want to make sure everybody is entitled to due process,” Meeks said. “They had provided great service for me. And there were certain times in which they had permission by me, if it was Hina or someone else, to access some of my data.”
Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, who’s office has employed Imran, Abid, Alvi, Abbas, and Abid’s wife, Natalia Sova at differing times dating back to 2011, said the following to the Daily Caller.
“I hear two sides of the story, some people say it’s because he’s Muslim that he’s being railroaded, other people say he made some bad decisions. I don’t know enough about it,” Missouri Democratic Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver said.
Awan’s attorney, Chris Gowen, said his client is the victim of a right-wing media conspiracy. “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,” Gowen said. “A quick glance at what the government filed in court today confirms the lack of evidence or proof they have against my client.”
Wasserman-Schultz has also said that she believes Awan may have been put under scrutiny because he is Muslim.
“I had grave concerns about his due process rights being violated,” she said. “When their investigation was reviewed with me, I was presented with no evidence of anything that they were being investigated for. And so that, in me, gave me great concern that his due process rights were being violated. That there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns that I had,” she said.
“After details of the investigation were reviewed with us, my office was provided no evidence to indicate that laws had been broken, which over time, raised troubling concerns about due process, fair treatment and potential ethnic and religious profiling. Upon learning of his arrest, he was terminated,” Wasserman Schultz said Wednesday via email.
The Media’s Coverage
Since the story first broke February 2 on Buzzfeed, coverage relating to the Awan Brothers in the media has been sparse and largely pursued by a single reporter, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller. Since first breaking the identity of the Awan Brothers on February 4, Rosiak has written over 20 pieces relating to the ongoing scandal.
Given Rosiak’s (dogged) pursuit of the Awan Brothers story, the following claim made by Gowen Rhoades, the law firm representing Imran Awan, seems rather disingenuous.
The most substantive piece of journalism on the case thus far, that we have seen, was published by BuzzFeed (here).
The suggestion that this Buzzfeed is a more substantive piece of journalism than the work done by Rosiak is laughable and offensive to the outstanding reporting done at the Daily Caller News Foundation. It is the only piece on the entire Buzzfeed website where the term ‘Awan’ is mentioned, uses some form of the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ nine times, and the author’s tweet of her article even took a swipe at “Pro-Trumpers”.
Pro-Trumpers are losing it over Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s arrested IT staffer, here’s why but with facts: https://t.co/PLVmVhxYWW
— Amber Jamieson (@ambiej) July 27, 2017
Those familiar with Twitter will know that a ratio of 15 replies to 1 favorite/re-tweet is generally indicative of a strong negative response to a tweet. A quick scroll through the responses shows this strongly negative sentiment towards Jamieson’s article.
One other article on the Awan Brothers is promoted on the Gowen Rhoades website, a July 28 New York Times article linked to by way of the following text:
In similar regard to the Buzzfeed article, the New York Times piece uses some variation of the phrase ‘conspiracy theory’ three times in a three sentence span. The New York Times first mention of the Awan Brothers came on July 26 via a Associated Press article, and the July 28 piece was the outlets first original piece on the scandal. As of August 4, these are the only two articles from the New York Times that cover the Awan Brothers.
Both the New York Times and Buzzfeed articles take aim at a man named George Webb who has been covering the case of the Awan Brothers since February. Webb is a citizen journalist who posts videos to his YouTube channel which has over 40,000 subscribers. In their recent articles, Buzzfeed characterizes Webb as “alt-right” and the New York Times refers to Webb as “right-wing.” Webb told Populist.tv that he voted for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 along with donating around five times to the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. Given Webb’s political history, the characterizations of Webb made by the New York Times and Buzzfeed bring into question the the credibility of both pieces and the depth of journalistic pursuit that went into their publication.
CNN has written one article on the Awan Brothers, published on July 26. Shortly after, CNN had a video report on ‘The Lead’ with Jake Tapper. These are the only two postings involving the Awan Brothers on cnn.com
Similarly, the Washington Post did not report on the Awan Brothers until July 26. However, an April 26 Washington Post article listing Fairfax County home sales does list the sale of a home from Hina Alvi to Jamal Awan.
Linnett Hill Dr., 9574-Hina R. Alvi to Jamal M. Awan, $620,000.
Fox News had reported on the scandal sparingly up to the Imran Awan’s arrest, but has since began to focus in on the Awan Brothers and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Maria Baritoromo mentioned the scandal on the Fox Business network shortly after the story of the Awan Brothers initially broke in February. (Video below)
In the last few weeks, Fox News has had Luke Rosiak on television several times to discuss the Awan Brothers.
Also on Fox, Joe Concha, media reporter for The Hill, suggested that if the scandal involved Republicans, the media would be covering the story around the clock, and that the media’s omission of coverage on the Awan Brothers story is indicative of why the public is so distrustful of the political news media. (Video Below)
Additionally, Fox News Congressional reporter, Chad Pegram, was the first reporter to break the news that Imran Awan had been arrested at Dulles International Airport while trying to leave the country.
Feds/USCP bust Hse IT staffer Imran Awan & charge him with multiple counts of bank fraud as part of Hse IT procurement scandal
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 25, 2017
Feds/USCP picked up Imran Awan at Dulles Aiport last night as he was “trying to leave the country.” Has been arraigned. Surrendered passport
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 25, 2017
A search for ‘Awan’ at the Wall Street Journal reveals two hits, one on July 31 and on August 3, Kimberly Strassel, author of The Intimidation Game, wrote a column entitled, “The Scandal That Matters” targeting the scandal surrounding the Awan Brothers.
Similarly, National Review Online did not cover the Awan Brothers until after Imran’s arrest, but has since written several pieces on the story including a July 29 article by Andy McCarthy which delves into some of the unanswered questions in the case.
ABC News, CBS News, and NBC News, all have a single web article on their respective websites following the arrest of Imran Awan. Otherwise, these three major news organizations have zero coverage of the ongoing Awan Brothers scandal.
How much of the media has chosen to cover and more importantly not cover the story of the Awan Brothers shows how media organizations are able to control public perception and bury stories harmful to entities they support. How media coverage of the Awan Brothers be going forward is uncertain, but the reporting of Luke Rosiak is clearly more in-depth than that of ABC, CBS, NBC and others. There are several methods employed by media outlets to manipulate public perception of the news, and omission is one of their most powerful tactics.
Given the explosive nature of the story and the vast resources at these various news bureaus, why aren’t there more mainstream reporters on the story? What storylines are they trying to hide and who is telling them to bury this major scandal? Keep in mind that to this point the scandal solely involves Democrats. Smells like potential, dare I say, collusion…
Is Imran Awan’s lawyer Christopher Gowen correct to characterize the attention on the Awan Saga as unsupported, outlandish, and slanderous claims driven by bigotry? Were the Awan 5 doing mostly “run of the mill” work despite receiving some of the highest salaries for Congressional staff? Is the Awan Brothers Saga all based in conspiracy theory as the NY Times has suggested? Has mainstream media been correct to dismiss the story and will they continue to downplay it going forward?
Or is there a real criminal conspiracy that has been operating on Capitol Hill involving the Awan Syndicate? Is Debbie Wasserman-Schultz…? espionage? ??? In the remainder of this article we will examine the facts and details surrounding the case of the Awan Brothers, and you can make your own determination. And then perhaps with their vast scope and resources the mainstream media can pick up the investigation and fill in the blanks, or perhaps that will be left to the real news media…
GOP Chairwoman, Ronna Romney McDaniel, has sent out nearly a dozen tweets since July 26 targeting the office of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz calling transparency and greater scrutiny from the media suggesting national security may have been put at risk.
On July 31, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics at the House of Representatives requesting an investigation into Debbie Wasserman-Schultz involving her continued employment of Imran Awan in the months leading up to his arrest.
Rep. Ron DeSantis has formally requested a briefing from the Capitol Police on the case, and DeSantis has also suggested that the House of Representatives needs to investigate how their systems were compromised which will require individuals, likely Wasserman-Schultz and others, testifying before Congress.
Then on August 3, DeSantis sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking that the Department of Justice to utilize its resources to look into the criminal actions of the Awan Brothers. In the letter DeSantis references Pakistan’s ties to numerous terrorist organizations.
These recent events suggest that the investigation to the Awan Brothers may be gaining momentum in Washington DC. Therefore, we may see formal investigations announced, Congressional hearings, or additional charges in the weeks and months to come.
Barring other announcements or revelations relating to the Awan Brothers in the coming weeks, the next formal event will be Imran Awan’s preliminary hearing which is scheduled for August 21.
Who are Congressional Democrats and the establishment media protecting? The former DNC chair and one of the most unpopular members of Congress the serial liar Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. For 20-80+ members who may have been compromised or blackmailed. Or is it for something even bigger relating to an entire Clinton faction of the Democratic Party. The involvement of Gowen has tied the Clintons into the story that is largely centered around longtime Clinton ally, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. The ties between Wasserman-Schultz and Clinton go back far as she supported Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primary.
The unanswered questions remain numerous and the circumstances surrounding potentially breached national security and blackmailed of members of Congress have the potential to turn the scandal surrounding the Awan Brothers into an ongoing that will captivate and sicken average citizens. Surely one charge of bank fraud is not the end of this case and the lack of honest mainstream media attention given to this story is indicative of the total journalistic failure that establishment press has become. The mainstream press does not work to shine light on the truth on behalf of the American people; rather they serve as gatekeepers for a corrupt political establishment by ignoring scandals like the story of the Awan Brothers. And to protect who, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Congressional Democrats, the Awan Brothers? Shame on you mainstream media. At least pretend you are going to try to repair your shattered reputation and begin investigating and covering this story.
Or don’t bother covering the Awan Brothers story if you have no integrity remaining. The real news media will cover it with or without you.