A missing server. A data breach. An arrested IT guy. Suspicious activity by the former head of the DNC. And Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in it.
Oh, but the president is. And on his favorite medium, he’s demanding answers.
Astute readers will no doubt remember the saga of Imran Awan, the information technology guy for plenty of House Democrats, including former DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz. If not, a little bit of background: Awan was arrested last year at Washington Dulles Airport attempting to leave the country for his native Pakistan shortly after smashed hard disks were recovered from his house by the FBI and months after an inspector general’s report revealed several potential violations of security protocol. (I’m sure he was planning to return with all due rapidity.)
After he was arrested, media outlets talked about how his case had “attracted unfounded conspiracy theories and intrigue” and how “(f)ar-right news organizations seized on it as a potential coverup of an espionage ring that plundered national secrets and might have been responsible for the campaign hacking of the Democratic National Committee, a breach that intelligence agencies have linked to Russia.” (At least, that’s how The Washington Post described it in September 2017.)
“Investigators looking for clues about espionage instead found that the workers were using one congressional server as if it were their home computer, storing personal information such as children’s homework and family photos,” Shawn Boberg reported for The Post.
What the liberal media were forced to acknowledge, however, was that the inspector general gave a report that found, inter alia, they felt one “server is being used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information” and “could be used to store documents taken from other offices.” They had also discovered Dropbox — a cloud file-storage service — on several servers, which is against House rules.
Awan and his family were finally banned from the House network — months after the investigation had first suspected him of improper procedures. The cause of the banning, according to The Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak, an investigative reporter whose work on the Awan case has thus far been exemplary, was that they found a secret server Awan had routed data to. The server had been accessed 5,735 times between October 2015 and April 2016, an unusual number of times. Accessing the server with that frequency could indicate that it was being used to expropriate information which possibly wasn’t of children’s homework and family photos variety.
Apparently, after House investigators requested the server, it more or less disappeared. Again, I’m sure it just got lost in the shuffle, much like the laptop used by Awan that was found left in a cubbyhole with the username “RepDWS.”
And the Notorious DWS has managed to try to keep all of the ugly details out of the press. Wasserman Schultz threatened “consequences” if the Capitol Police didn’t return the laptop to her office, in spite of the fact that it was left in public and could have been breached in some manner. It’s also alleged that she approached House Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko, who was responsible for the investigation, to call him a “f—— Islamophobe” for even investigating Awan and tell him “you will not so much as take away their parking spots.”
Rep. Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, thinks there was probably something more to the servers than just homework or photos.
“The House Office of Inspector General tracked the Awans network usage and found that a massive amount of data was flowing from the (congressional) networks,” Rep. Perry said recently, according to Fox News. “Over 5,700 logins by the five Awan associates were discovered on a single server within the House, the server of the Democratic Caucus Chairman, then-Rep. Xavier Becerra of California. Up to 40 or more members of Congress had all of their data moved out their office servers and onto the Becerra server without their knowledge or consent.”
Oh, those far-right congressmen and their silly conspiracy theories.
Perhaps more surprising is that the Justice Department doesn’t seem terribly interested in prosecuting Awan to the fullest extent of the law. “The parties are currently exploring a possible resolution of this matter,” prosecutors in the case wrote in a June 3 filing before a district judge in Washington. “Therefore, the parties are requesting additional time in which to explore that resolution.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a certain president who isn’t terribly keen on the job his attorney general is doing and is also not terribly pleased about the potential plea bargain.
Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a “plea deal” to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
“Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook,” the president said in a Thursday tweet. “The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a “plea deal” to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!”
Whether or not that’s going to drive any of the conversations over how the Awan case should be handled at the DOJ is anyone’s guess. Awan isn’t being charged in any of that, mind you, but for financial shenanigans; his indictment made no mention of potential data breaches or a separate procurement scandal which had initially drawn the attention of investigators. The case, one gets the impression, is one that Sessions and company would be happy to have off of their hands.
Whether or not there’s anything there or whether this was just someone who was simply sloppy and really was just storing photos and homework — that sounds an awful lot like Ken Clawson’s infamously prosaic “I have a wife and a family and a dog and a cat” excuse during Watergate, doesn’t it? — one would hope that the full resources of the DOJ were given over to finding that out. This hardly looks to be the case, particularly given Rosiak’s reporting on this. Whether a tweet from Trump will change anything is pretty much God’s knowledge alone, but he’s been known to move members of his cabinet and party into action in 280 characters or less before.
However, what I can say the tweet has done is keep Imran Awan’s name in front of a press that despairingly wishes to cover anything else instead. As tweets go, the president certainly could have done far worse.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.