Former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz waited until after House IT network-banned staffer Imran Awan was arrested and allegedly tried to flee the country to Pakistan before firing him.
In a new interview, Wasserman Schultz says she would “do it again.”
“I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,” Rep. Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel in a Thursday interview.
Awan headed up Schultz’s technology since 2004, according to UPI, and worked for more than 24 Democrats. In February the House of Representatives revoked Awan’s and his two brothers’ access to its computer networks. Their access was revoked on suspicion that they “stole equipment from more than 20 member offices and accessed House IT systems without lawmakers’ knowledge,” according to Politico.
The brothers were shared employees, and each member who employed them had the responsibility to make the individual decision whether to fire them, according to the Daily Caller. While a number of them did, Schultz did not.
After the criminal probe was revealed in February, Awan listed his home for rent. A military veteran who moved in reported to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that he found what appeared to be smashed government-issued wireless routers, hard drives, and laptops in the home. The veteran stated that it looked like someone had attempted to destroy the equipment. FBI agents and Capitol Police seized the equipment from the house, according to the report.
In May, Schultz threatened the chief of the Capitol Police with “consequences” for refusing to return a laptop she said was from her office and that Awan had used.
Court documents say that just before allegedly attempting to flee the U.S. to Pakistan last week, Awan fraudulently obtained $165,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union and wired almost $300,000 to Pakistan. Awan declared bankruptcy in 2012.
Awan and his family have received more than $4 million from House Democrats since 2009, according to the Daily Caller.
Not until after Awan was arrested at Dulles international airport on the bank fraud charge and while trying to board a plane to Pakistan did Schultz finally fire him.
“There are times when you can’t be afraid to stand alone, and you have to stand up for what’s right,” Schultz told the Sentinel on Thursday, in regard to keeping Awan on her payroll. “The easier thing to do for me would have been to just fire him.”
She spoke in the interview of the “political challenges” she has experienced in the past year. Schultz was pushed out of her position as DNC Chairwoman in the course of the 2016 presidential election and after her emails were among those published by Wikileaks.
“If there’s one thing that I’m going to make sure that I maintain is my integrity,” Schultz told the Sentinel.
According to the Sentinel, this is Schultz’s first interview on the subject since news of Awan’s arrest broke. It states that all comments have come through her communications director. Schultz told the outlet that it’s just because she’s been on vacation since last week. She has given remarks at least two events this week.
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