Some members of the Democratic National Committee have former DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in their sights, and it all seems to be a result of her fired — and arrested — former IT aide, Imran Awan.
Nikki Barnes, a progressive DNC member from Wasserman Schultz’s own state of Florida, told Politico that the DNC wishes Wasserman Schultz “would go away” along with her “negative stories.”
“We wish she would go away and stop being so public by doubling down on negative stories,” Barnes told Politico.
Barnes said that the DNC was in “shambles” while Wasserman Schultz was chair, and claimed that Wasserman Schultz’s defense that her former information technology aide was arrested because of racial profiling doesn’t add up.
“None of this makes sense,” Barnes said. “It doesn’t sound like racial profiling … there must have been something for her.”
The problem with the Awan case, Barnes said, is that it’s not just hurting the congresswoman. It’s drawing negative attention to a party still healing after last year’s shocking losses and the divisive Democratic primary in which Wasserman Schultz appeared to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
“This adds to Debbie being rebranded as the Democrats’ disastrous destruction,” Barnes said. “Those of us on the DNC know we have to rebrand ourselves and earn the people’s trust. And unfortunately Debbie’s name does not scream trust. It screams power. It screams limited access. It screams WikiLeaks now. DNC lawsuit. It screams a lot of negative things to the public. That’s not how we want to rebrand ourselves.”
R.T. Rybak, former mayor of Minneapolis and former DNC vice-chair, said that Wasserman Schultz is only relevant these days because of her “devastatingly bad role” in the 2016 presidential election.
“[Wasserman Schultz] is still a national figure, but unfortunately for her, it’s because so many people around the country see her as playing a devastatingly bad role in the last election,” Rybak said.
Rybak added, “I can mention her name in Minneapolis and it gets a viscerally negative reaction, and I’ve found that to be the case in other parts of the country, too. Sadly, I think she deserves the negative reputation.”
Awan was arrested July 24 at Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport on several charges of bank fraud as he was reportedly trying to flee the U.S.
The bank fraud charges stemmed from an investigation of an information technology procurement scandal in the U.S. House.
Awan was the lead suspect in an ongoing criminal probe into security breaches within the House of Representatives that was launched Feb. 2. He reportedly double-charged the U.S. House for IT equipment and may have exposed sensitive House members’ information online. According to previous reports, Wasserman Schultz kept Awan on her payroll, even though he had been banned from House servers by Capitol Hill security.
Wasserman Schultz only removed Awan from her payroll after his arrest.
Awan’s attorney, Chris Gowen — who was a former campaigner for both former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton — in July claimed that the arrest of his client was “clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.”
Wasserman Schultz echoed Gowen’s comments last week.
“I had grave concerns about his due process rights being violated,” Wasserman Schultz 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.”
Congressional sources also added that Wasserman Schultz has been highly uncooperative in the investigation into Awan.