Imran Awan, the former Democrat IT staffer who was arrested last month at Dulles International Airport as he tried to flee the country amid an FBI and Capitol Police investigation, still has an active, secret email account on the House computer system, The Daily Caller reported Tuesday.
Awan and several members of his family — including his wife Hina Alvi — are being investigated by the FBI and Capitol Police for conspiracy, bank fraud, and cybersecurity violations. The clan was reportedly barred from using the computer networks at the House of Representatives back in February.
According to the Caller, Awan’s email address is still active “and linked to the name of a House staffer who specializes in intelligence and homeland security matters for Indiana Democratic Rep. André Carson.”
He and two of his Pakistani-born brothers, as well as his wife, are at the center of an FBI investigation over their IT work with dozens of Democratic congressional offices. Authorities shut down Awan’s standard email account Feb. 2, and he was arrested by the FBI at Dulles International Airport trying to board a flight to his native Pakistan on July 25.
Authorities apparently did not realize Awan has a second account that is not linked to his identity. While his main email address began rejecting mail after it was shut down, the 123 address was still accepting mail Tuesday.
The Daily Caller’s intrepid reporter Luke Rosiak discovered that the account belongs to Nathan Bennett, a Carson aide whose work in Congress includes “national security and foreign affairs” and work on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The member Bennett works for, Carson, is a member of both the House Intelligence and House Homeland Security Committees, and previously employed Awan.
Carson is ranking member of the House intelligence subcommittee on emerging threats, which oversees the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The subcommittee oversight extends to the National Counterterrorism Center and information-sharing programs.
A spokeswoman for Carson, Jessica Gail, did not express concern or surprise when contacted by TheDCNF about Awan’s still-active email address Monday morning. Bennett said Tuesday morning Gail had not even informed him of the details.
Bennett, who is Carson’s deputy chief of staff, told TheDCNF he has no control over the 123 address. “However this happened, it was not with my consent or control,” he said in an email. “For the record, I do not, nor have I ever, had control of the [email protected] email account or any other account connected with Imran Awan or his family.” That could not be confirmed by the House’s chief administrative officer (CAO) because spokesman Dan Weiser has said “the CAO will not comment on matters pertaining to this ongoing investigation.”
Thirteen House Democrats shared Awan’s IT services, and only two — Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Marcia Fudge — waited longer than Carson to fire him after he became the subject of a criminal investigation, according to payroll records, Rosiak points out.
In an interview with the Sun Sentinel earlier this month, Wasserman Schultz stood by her decision to keep Awan on her payroll for six months after he was banned from the House network.
“I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,” Wasserman Schultz said Thursday in an exclusive interview with the Sun Sentinel. “There are times when you can’t be afraid to stand alone, and you have to stand up for what’s right.
“It would have been easier for me to just fire him,” she said.
His arrest, the congresswoman said, had nothing to do with the months-long investigation of Awan as an IT worker for a variety of members of Congress. An FBI affidavit filed with the criminal complaint said Awan and his wife claimed a property used to secure a home equity line of credit was a “principal residence,” when it was, in fact, a rental property. Wasserman Schultz said there still hasn’t been any evidence presented that he’s done anything wrong involving his work for Congress.
And, she said, she believes he may have been put under scrutiny because of his religious faith. Awan is Muslim.
Awan and his wife reportedly owned four houses and collected $330,000 annually in congressional salaries.
According to the Washington Examiner, Alvi, who fled to Pakistan back in March, now has an attorney to represent her against charges of conspiracy and bank fraud.
Court documents show defense attorney Nikki Lotze of the law firm Lotze Mosley LLP will represent Alvi against charges handed up by a grand jury indictment on Aug. 17.
According to the complaint filed in federal court in July when Awan was arrested, he had wired $283,000 in January from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to Faisalabad, Pakistan. The complaint also states that back in March, when Alvi was detained at the airport on route to Pakistan, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents found $12,400 in cash when they searched her belongings. The FBI believes that when Alvi and her three daughters left in March, they had no intention of coming back.
Former Asst. United States Attorney Andrew McCarthy wondered at NRO why Alvi was permitted to leave the U.S.
Why was she not arrested? Under federal law, a person may carry as much cash in or out of the U.S. as she wishes. There are, however, reporting requirements. A Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments must be completed and filed with CBP if the amount of currency being removed from the country exceeds $10,000. An effort to smuggle out such an amount of cash without completing the report form is a felony, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment. If it is done in conjunction with some other crime (e.g., fraud), or as part of a pattern of illegal activity, the penalty is up to ten years’ imprisonment.
McCarthy is raising red flags about the Justice Department’s indictment of Imran Awan and Hina Alvi because “there’s not a word in it about flight to Pakistan.”
The indictment undertakes to describe in detail four counts of bank-fraud conspiracy, false statements on credit applications, and unlawful monetary transactions, yet leaves out the most damning evidence of guilt. In fact, the indictment appears to go out of its way not to mention it.
According to McCarthy, the U.S. attorney’s office is currently led by Channing D. Phillips, “an Obama holdover who was never confirmed.”
Still awaiting Senate confirmation is Jessie Liu, nominated by President Trump in June. Meanwhile, Steven Wasserman, Representative Wasserman Schultz’s brother, has been an assistant U.S. attorney in the office for many years. I have seen no indication that he has any formal role in the case, notwithstanding some cyberspace speculation to the contrary. What is clear, however, is that the office is low-keying the Awan prosecution. The indictment itself is drawn very narrowly. All four charges flow from a financial-fraud conspiracy of short duration. Only Imran Awan and his wife are named as defendants. There is no reference to Awan-family perfidy in connection with the House communications system. More bizarre still: There is not a word about Alvi’s flight to Pakistan, nor Imran Awan’s failed attempt to follow her there. This is not an oversight. The omission appears quite intentional.
Here is a brief synopsis of the scandal so far, via The Blaze: