The mysterious case of Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz's now indicted former IT staffer, continues to grow more interesting by the day. As we've noted before, Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, have so far only been charged with bank fraud and conspiracy though new allegations of wrongdoing seemingly surface on a daily basis.
Now, the latest revelation comes via an exclusive report from The Daily Caller which suggests that Awan may have been fired only after Capitol Police discovered a "secret server" being housed by the House Democratic Caucus.
A secret server is behind law enforcement’s decision to ban a former IT aide to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz from the House network.
Now-indicted former congressional IT aide Imran Awan allegedly routed data from numerous House Democrats to a secret server. Police grew suspicious and requested a copy of the server early this year, but they were provided with an elaborate falsified image designed to hide the massive violations. The falsified image is what ultimately triggered their ban from the House network Feb. 2, according to a senior House official with direct knowledge of the investigation.
The secret server was connected to the House Democratic Caucus, an organization chaired by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. Police informed Becerra that the server was the subject of an investigation and requested a copy of it. Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, the senior official said.
Data was also backed up to Dropbox in huge quantities, the official said. Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network.
Awan had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress who are listed below. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects.
According to the DC, the "secret server" was discovered when California Congressman, and chair of the House Democratic Caucus, Xavier Becerra asked to have his server wiped clean (you know, like with a cloth) in advance of his departure to take his new seat as Attorney General of California.
On Jan. 24, 2017, Becerra vacated his congressional seat to become California’s attorney general. “He wanted to wipe his server, and we brought to his attention it was under investigation. The light-off was we asked for an image of the server, and they deliberately turned over a fake server,” the senior official said.
“They were using the House Democratic Caucus as their central service warehouse … It was a breach. The data was completely out of [the members’] possession. Does it mean it was sold to the Russians? I don’t know,” the senior official said.
Capitol Police considered the image a sign that the Awans knew exactly what they were doing and were going to great lengths to try to cover it up, the senior official said. The House Sergeant-at-Arms banned them from the network as a result.
The senior official said the data was also funneled offsite via a Dropbox account, from which copies could easily be downloaded. Authorities could not immediately shut down the account when the Awans were banned from the network because it was not an official account.
“For members to say their data was not compromised is simply inaccurate. They had access to all the data including all emails. Imran Awan is the walking example of an insider threat, a criminal actor who had access to everything,” the senior official said.
Meanwhile, these latest allegations come after Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) appeared on Fox News yesterday to share his prediction that the Awans could be working on a broader immunity deal with prosecutors in return for a "significant" and "pretty disturbing" story about Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“I don’t want to talk out of school here but I think you're going to see some revelations that are going to be pretty profound. The fact that this wife is coming back from Pakistan and is willing to face charges, as it were, I think there is a good chance she is going to reach some type of immunity to tell a larger story here that is going to be pretty disturbing to the American people.”
"I would just predict that this is going to be a very significant story and people should fasten their seat belts on this one."
This all follows speculation that surfaced last week suggesting that even if the Awans were originally acting to protect/extort Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that may have all changed on April 6, 2017 when Imran seemingly led U.S. Capitol Police directly to her laptop. Per The Daily Caller:
A laptop that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has frantically fought to keep prosecutors from examining may have been planted for police to find by her since-indicted staffer, Imran Awan, along with a letter to the U.S. Attorney.
U.S. Capitol Police found the laptop after midnight April 6, 2017, in a tiny room that formerly served as a phone booth in the Rayburn House Office Building, according to a Capitol Police report reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group. Alongside the laptop were a Pakistani ID card, copies of Awan’s driver’s license and congressional ID badge, and letters to the U.S. attorney. Police also found notes in a composition notebook marked “attorney-client privilege.”
The laptop had the username “RepDWS,” even though the Florida Democrat and former Democratic National Committee chairman previously said it was Awan’s computer and that she had never even seen it.
The laptop was found on the second floor of the Rayburn building — a place Awan would have had no reason to go because Wasserman Schultz’s office is in the Longworth building and the other members who employed him had fired him.
Of course, we're certain this is just more attempts to "criminalize behavior that is normal."