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Wasserman Schultz Threatened Police Chief For Gathering Evidence On Her IT Staffer’s Alleged Crimes

Wasserman Schultz Threatened Police Chief For Gathering Evidence On Her IT Staffer’s Alleged Crimes

Postby smix » Mon May 29, 2017 8:08 pm

Wasserman Schultz Threatened Police Chief For Gathering Evidence On Her IT Staffer’s Alleged Crimes
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/24/wasse ... ed-crimes/
Category: Politics
Published: May 24, 2017

Description: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that she says belongs to her in order to build a criminal case against a Pakistani staffer suspected of massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite. The Florida lawmaker used her position on the committee that sets the police force’s budget to press its chief to relinquish the piece of evidence Thursday, in what could be considered using her authority to attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation. The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft. “My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee. “We can’t return the equipment,” Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa told the Florida Democrat. “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 said. As one of eight members of the Committee on Appropriations’ Legislative Branch subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz is in charge of the budget of the police force that is investigating her staffer and how he managed to extract so much money and information from members. In a highly unusual exchange, the Florida lawmaker uses a hearing on the Capitol Police’s annual budget to spend three minutes repeatedly trying to extract a promise from the chief that he will return a piece of evidence being used to build an active case. "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?" she said. Police tell her it is important to "an ongoing investigation," but presses for its return anyway. A federal employee with knowledge of the situation and who requested anonymity told The Daily Caller News Foundation's Investigative Group that as House authorities closed in on Imran Awan and his brothers, a laptop used by Imran was hidden in an unused crevice of the Rayburn House Office Building. Wasserman Schultz's office is in Longworth House Office Building, a separate structure. The laptop was later found by Capitol Police and seized because it was relevant to the criminal investigation, the source said. The investigation 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. The congresswoman characterizes the evidence as "belonging" to her and argues that therefore it cannot be seized unless Capitol Police tell her that she personally, as opposed to her staffer, is a target of the investigation. When TheDCNF asked Wasserman Schultz Monday if it could inquire about her strong desire for the laptop, she said “No, you may not.” After TheDCNF asked why she wouldn’t want the Capitol Police to have any evidence they may need to find and punish any hackers of government information, she abruptly turned around in the middle of a stairwell and retreated back to the office from which she had come. Her spokesman, David Dameron, then emerged to say “We just don’t have any comment.” Though on the surface Wasserman Schultz would have been a victim of Awan’s scam, she has inexplicably protected him, circumventing the network ban by re-titling him as an “adviser” instead of technology administrator. Politico described him and his wife, Hina Alvi, as having a “friendly personal relationship” with both Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York. That baffled a Democratic IT staffer, who said “I can’t imagine why she’d be that good of friends with a technology provider.” “Usually if someone does bad stuff, an office is going to distance themselves” rather than incur political fallout for a mere staffer, he added. Wasserman Schultz resigned as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 after Wikileaks published thousands of internal emails obtained by an as-yet unidentified hacker. The last 30 seconds of the exchange can also be seen here.



DWS: I’d like to know how Capitol Police handle equipment that belongs to a member or staffer that’s been lost in the Capitol complex and found or recovered by one of your officers. What happens?
Chief: It’s processed on a PD-81 which is a property record, and depending on the property, depending on how you can legitimately determine ownership, it’s generally turned back over to the owner of a property. If it’s part of an ongoing case, then there are other things that have to occur for that to happen.
DWS: So if a member says there is equipment that has been lost, and you find it it would be returned to the member?
Chief: In a general sense, yes. You have to be able to positively identify the property and be able to establish ownership.
DWS: If ownership is established…
Chief: If it’s part of an ongoing case, then there are additional things that need to be done.
DWS: But if a member owns the equipment, and there is no ongoing case related to that member, then the equipment is supposed to be returned.
Chief: In a general sense, yes.
DWS: No, I mean in a specific sense. If the member loses the equipment, says they lose the equipment, and it is found by the Capitol Police, it is supposed to be returned.
Chief: If ownership has been established, it will be returned. If it’s subject to an ongoing investigation, there are additional things–
DWS: OK, but not an ongoing investigation related to that member. If the equipment belongs to the member, it has been lost, they say it’s been lost and it’s been identified as that member’s, then the Capitol Police are supposed to return it.
Chief: I can’t give a yes or no answer on that, because I know–
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: 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: 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.




House IT Aides Fear Suspects In Hill Breach Are Blackmailing Members With Their Own Data
Daily Caller

URL: http://dailycaller.com/2017/05/21/house ... -own-data/
Category: Politics
Published: May 21, 2017

Description: Congressional technology aides are baffled that data-theft allegations against four former House IT workers — who were banned from the congressional network — have largely been ignored, and they fear the integrity of sensitive high-level information. Imran Awan and three relatives were colleagues until police banned them from computer networks at the House of Representatives after suspicion the brothers accessed congressional computers without permission. Five Capitol Hill technology aides told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects who police say victimized them. The baffled aides wonder if the suspects are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, to which they had full access. “I don’t know what they have, but they have something on someone. It’s been months at this point” with no arrests, said Pat Sowers, who has managed IT for several House offices for 12 years. “Something is rotten in Denmark.” A manager at a tech-services company that works with Democratic House offices said he approached congressional offices, offering their services at one-fourth the price of Awan and his Pakistani brothers, but the members declined. At the time, he couldn’t understand why his offers were rejected but now he suspects the Awans exerted some type of leverage over members. “There’s no question about it: If I was accused of a tenth of what these guys are accused of, they’d take me out in handcuffs that same day, and I’d never work again,” he said. The Awans’ ban sent 20 members searching for new IT workers, but another contractor claims he’s had difficulty convincing offices to let him fill the void, even when he seemed like a shoo-in. He says he has the sense some members wrongly believed that he blew the whistle on the Awans’ theft and they were angry at him for it. Politico reported the Awan crew is “accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.” A House IT employee who requested anonymity said tech workers who have taken over some of those offices found that computers in some — but not all — offices were “thin clients” that sent all data to an offsite server in violation of House policies. Additionally, staffers’ iPhones were all linked to a single non-government iTunes account. Awan began working for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida in 2005, and his wife, his brother’s wife, and two of his brothers all appeared on the payrolls of various House Democrats soon after, payroll records show. They have collected $4 million since 2010. For years, it was widely known that Awan, and eventually his 20-year-old brother Jamal, did the bulk of the work for various offices, while no-show employees were listed on members’ staffs in order to collect additional $165,000 salaries, workers said. This circumvented a rule that prevents any one staffer from making more than members of Congress. Members were fiercely protective of the business, despite objectively shoddy work and requests for computer help routinely ignored for weeks, all said. An IT specialist who took over an Awan office said they did not keep an inventory of what hardware was there, and the office was paying for phone lines it hadn’t used in years. “The number of offices they had would definitely be suspicious. The loyalty [members] had [coupled with] customer service that wasn’t there,” Sowers said. One Democratic IT staffer said Awan “would come in and only help the member — he’d tell me this — because staff come and go. There was one staffer whose computer was broken and said, ‘I’m not going to pay my invoices until you fix my computer,’ and Imran went to the member, and they fired [the staffer who complained] that day. Imran has that power.” Sowers said, “I love the Hill but to see this clear lack of concern over what appears to be a major breach bothers me. Everyone has said for years they were breaking the rules, but it’s just been a matter of time.” An employee of a third private company with House IT office contracts, who like most of the others requested anonymity, said the Awans had more offices than anyone, yet “there’s networkers meetings once a week and I never saw them ever come to them. We have an email group; I never saw them contribute or reply.” The investigation goes far beyond the theft of millions of dollars. The employees could read all emails dozens of members of Congress sent and received, as well as access any files members and their staff stored. Court records show the brothers ran a side business that owed $100,000 to an Iranian fugitive who has been tied to Hezbollah, and their stepmother says they often send money to Pakistan. “When you’re an admin for an office, yes, you have access to everything, you’re the one providing access for others,” the IT specialist said. Wasserman Schultz, the victim of a disastrous hack while she was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, renamed Awan an “advisor” to circumvent the Capitol Police’s computer network ban on the brothers. Ohio Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge’s office told Politico a month after the ban that she had not fired Imran either. After Wasserman Schultz and Fudge, as well as New York Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks and Yvette Clarke and the House Democratic Caucus office, retained the Awans, the incumbents or their staffs encouraged newly-elected members to place the family on their payrolls. “You’d think in the caucus they’d know these guys were working for all of them and they couldn’t possibly support all of them. Someone must have been turning a blind eye,” the IT specialist said. “You have the power to shut down the office, remove all their data and lock everyone out. It’s got to be a trusted adviser. How could you not see this? Maybe it’s not specifically blackmail, maybe it’s, you knew this was going on and let me do this” for years, the specialist continued. Another Democratic IT contractor said members “are saying don’t say anything, this will all blow over if we all don’t say anything.” The Awans “had [members] in their pocket,” and “there are a lot of members who could go down over this.”
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