During last week’s annual budget hearing for the U.S. Capitol Police, former DNC chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) threatened the U.S. Capitol Police chief with “consequences” if he did not return equipment that she says belongs to her and was being used by one of her staffers — Imran Awan — who is currently under criminal investigation.
“I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” Wasserman Schultz told Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa.
The Pakistan-born Awan, who was working as a technology administrator for the Florida lawmaker, is being investigated for alleged involvement in several massive cybersecurity breaches and transferring sensitive congressional data offsite.
Here is a portion of their exchange:
DWS: It’s a simple yes or no answer. If a member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no.
Chief Verderosa: It depends on the circumstances.
DWS: I don’t understand how that is possible. Members’ equipment is members’ equipment. My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate members’ equipment when the member is not under investigation. It is their equipment and it is supposed to be returned.
Chief Verderosa: I think there are extenuating circumstances in this case, and working through my counsel and the necessary personnel, if that in fact is the case, and with the permission of through the investigation, then we’ll return the equipment. But until that happens we can’t return the equipment.
DWS: I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences.
According to the Daily Caller, the investigation — which Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, and three other Democrat House staffers are part of — “is examining members’ data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get Members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls, billing $4 million since 2010.”
A federal employee with knowledge of the situation reportedly said, “A laptop used by Imran was hidden in an unused crevice of the Rayburn House Office Building” and was found by Capitol Police and seized for use in the criminal investigation against him. The Daily Caller further noted, “Wasserman Schultz’s office is in Longworth House Office Building, a separate structure.”
Wasserman Schultz also “has inexplicably protected” Awan, though she would have been a victim of his scam, the Daily Caller wrote. She also changed his title from “technology administrator” to “adviser.”
According to Politico, Awan and Alvi — who up until February was working for Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and who is being investigated along with her husband –have a “friendly personal relationship” with Wasserman Schultz and Meeks.
The Daily Caller noted that this baffled a Democrat IT staffer who reportedly told the publication, “I can’t imagine why she’d be that good of friends with a technology provider.” The staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity added, “Usually if someone does bad stuff, an office is going to distance themselves.”
The entire clip from the hearing is below. Wasserman Schultz’s nearly 3-minute exchange with Verderosa starts at the 1:24:26 mark: