Right-wing conspiracy theories against ex-congressional IT staffer debunked in plea deal
A former congressional technology staffer who was ensnared in a storm of right-wing conspiracy theories last year on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a minor bank fraud charge but was found innocent of all other accusations, according to The Washington Post.
Federal prosecutors concluded Imran Awan was not guilty of any allegations brought against him by right-wing media outlets and even President Trump, who spent months claiming he stole government secrets and hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server.
Trump last year referred to Awan as “the Pakistani mystery man,” claiming he was holding government documents.
As recently last month, Trump tweeted, “Our Justice Department must not let Awan … off the hook.”
Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a “plea deal” to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
Awan, who worked with dozens of House Democrats, most recently worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in her former capacity as chairwoman of the DNC.
“Particularly, the Government has found no evidence that your client illegally removed House data from the House network or from House Members’ offices, stole the House Democratic Caucus Server, stole or destroyed House information technology equipment, or improperly accessed or transferred government information, including classified or sensitive information,” prosecutors wrote in the plea agreement, according to the Post.
Awan was fired last year after he and four other staffers were accused of stealing equipment from House members’ offices and committing violations on the House IT network.
He was then arrested on unrelated bank fraud charges while trying to leave the country.
Though Awan pleaded guilty to bank fraud in the plea agreement, the federal prosecutors cleared him of all other charges and did not recommend jail time after the 18-month investigation.
Awan told the Post that he believes he was targeted because he is Pakistani.
“This has cost me my reputation, my livelihood, my family,” he said. “The president used me to advance his political agenda.”
In a comment to The Hill, Wasserman Schultz spokesman David Damron said, “We rely on our justice system to produce a fair result, after a considered, objective review. That role is even more important at a time when Donald Trump and his allies spread dangerous distortions with the intent of falsely smearing his political opponents.”
Updated at 12:56 p.m.