Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said in an interview Thursday that the ongoing investigation into her former IT staffer, Imran Awan, is the result of racism.
Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., last month as he attempted to leave the U.S. for his home country of Pakistan. The former information technology staffer was a suspect in an FBI and Capitol Police investigation into information leaks and stolen equipment from Democratic offices in the House of Representatives.
Wassmeran Schultz noted these as “procurement violations, and data transfer violations” to the Sun Sentinel.
Awan was arrested on charges of bank fraud involving mortgages on several properties he and his family owned in Virginia. This after having wired $283,000 in January from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Shortly after his arrest, police raided his home and seized computer hard drives that had been smashed to pieces.
During an interview with the Sun Sentinel on Thursday, however, Wasserman Schultz said that the FBI’s interest in Awan stems from his background as a Pakistani national.
“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,” Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel.
Additionally, Wasserman Schultz said she believed it was “absurd” to believe that Awan was fleeing to Pakistan, according to the Sun Sentinel. According to the Florida Democrat, Awan had worked out an unpaid leave of absence with a return date some time in September with Wasserman Schultz’s chief of staff, Tracie Pough.
“He is from Pakistan. … He’s an American, a naturalized American citizen. His children are natural-born citizens. His wife is a naturalized American citizen. And I mean when you’re trying to flee, you don’t fill out a form with your employer and go on unpaid leave,” Wasserman Schultz told the Sun-Sentinel.
In May, Awan’s wife Hina Alvi, fled for Pakistan with their two children according to an FBI affidavit. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reportedly found more than $12,000 among her belongings before allowing her to proceed to Qatar. She is reportedly now under the Pakistani government’s protection, according to the Daily Caller.
According to congressional sources, Wassmeran Schultz has been highly uncooperative with the investigation into the Awans. Some lawmakers became impatient with the slowness of the investigation and launched investigations of their own. According to some congressional officials, Wasserman Schultz’s hampering of the investigation could lead to her resignation.
Awan and his associates reportedly worked in over 30 Democratic House lawmaker’s offices, including members of the Homeland Security Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Intelligence Committee.
Awan and his employees, which included his wife, his brothers Abid and Jamal, and his best friend Rao Abbas, all made the maximum salary one can make at the capitol at $140,000 to $160,000 a year. From 2009 to 2016, the Awans made some $4 million working for Democratic lawmakers.
The lawmakers were strangely protective of Awan and his associates despite the high salaries and poorly done work. Sources said lawmakers would quickly fire aides who displeased them and would turn down companies who would offer to do better IT work at one-fourth the price.
Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinal that the reporting of the Awan scandal from conservative media outlets is nothing but a distraction from Trump’s ties to Russia.
“Any opportunity they can to pull people’s eyes and ears away from that, they take,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz has reportedly been avoiding reporters to the point of running in the opposite direction when she sees them since Awan’s arrest. Inside sources said the Florida Democrat has also been acting “jumpy.”