Imran Awan pictured alongside former President Bill Clinton (Photo: LinkedIn)
(Read the full story and get all the details on the Democrat’s hacking scandal the establishment media is ignoring in WND’s look at “The biggest scandal you’ve never heard of” and the account of “Top suspect in major Democrat scandal caught fleeing U.S.”)
WASHINGTON – Despite having declared bankruptcy, the top suspect in the Democrat’s House hacking scandal, Imran Awan, has somehow acquired the services of one of the top power attorneys in Washington.
And not just any power attorney, but one deeply connected to the Clintons.
According to the biography of Chris Gowen on the website of the law firm of Gowen, Rhoades, Winograd & Silva, PLLC, he has:
- Worked in the White House for former President Bill Clinton (for five years) as a traveling aid (sic) on national and international trips
- Worked for Senator Hillary Clinton
- Worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign by directing advance operations
- And was a fact checker for President Clinton’s memoir, “My Life”
According to his biography at American University, where Gowen is an adjunct professor of law, he “worked on several different initiatives with former President Clinton including”:
- The Clinton Foundation
- The Clinton Global Initiative
- The Clinton Health Access Initiative
- The Clinton Library
Gowen’s client was arrested by federal agents Tuesday at Dulles Airport in Virginia as he tried to flee the country for his native Pakistan.
Awan was then arraigned in federal court in Washington and pleaded not guilty to one count of bank fraud following allegations he tried to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union. According to an affidavit obtained by the Daily Caller, Awan had wired “$283,000.00, to two individuals in Faisalabad, Pakistan,” on Jan. 18.
Attorney Chris Gowen
But he is suspected of much more, including the possible theft of sensitive information from the office computers of numerous Democratic Party lawmakers and sending that data to a secret server.
Awan headed a group of at least five IT contractors working for dozens of House Democrats, including former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., for whom he had worked since she took office in 2005 as the representative from Florida’s 23rd district.
His group of IT workers included his wife, two of his brothers and one of their wives, all of whom are Muslims from Pakistan.
Awan was released after his arraignment but ordered to surrender his passports, wear a GPS monitor and observe a curfew.
According to Conservative Review, “It remains unclear at this time how Imran Awan managed to link up with Gowen and retain his services.”
One thing that’s clear: Gowen is making his defense of Awan all about politics.
In a statement defending his client released Wednesday, Gowen stated, “The attacks on Mr. Awan and his family began as part of a frenzy of anti-Muslim bigotry in the literal heart of our democracy, the House of Representatives.”
“For months,” he added, “we have had utterly unsupported, outlandish, and slanderous statements targeting Mr. Awan coming not just from the ultra-right-wing ‘pizzagate’ media but from sitting members of Congress.”
And, in an email sent after Awan’s arrest Tuesday, Gowen charged, “This is clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.”
However, despite Gowen’s immediate and strident claim that Awan was a victim of Islamophobia, the accusation doesn’t appear to be backed up by the evidence.
Someone who knows the Awans and is one of their strongest critics is apparently a Muslim herself.
A relative of the Awan brothers’ stepmother, Samina Galani, told the Daily Caller in March that she has spoken out against the Awans because, “I am fighting to protect the country. These are very bad people.”
The relative said the brothers threatened Galani (identified sometimes as Gilani) with violence and held her in virtual captivity from Oct. 16, 2016, to Feb. 2, which was, perhaps not coincidentally, the day the Capitol Police announced the investigation of the Awans.
According to court documents filed April 14 in Fairfax County, Virginia, Galani claimed the Awan brothers warned her not to talk to U.S. law-enforcement authorities and demanded she give them access to assets belonging to their dying father, Muhammad Shah, her husband of eight years.
The relative said they used high-tech listening devices to ensure Galani’s compliance and repeated her private conversations back to her to prove she was being monitored.
The relative urged Galani to get a secret cell phone. Galani called police in Fairfax County, Virginia, just before the House investigation became public.
The police report obtained by the Daily Caller said Galani claimed the brothers were denying her access to her dying husband and scheming to get his life insurance by forcing her to give them power of attorney.
“I made contact with her stepson, Abid, who responded to location and was obviously upset with the situation. He stated he has full power of attorney over his father and produced an unsigned, undated document as proof,” said the police report. “He refused to disclose his father’s location.”
Galani’s relative said Abid then “threatened her very severely, made her fearful, they told her they are going to abduct or kidnap her family back in Pakistan, and she had to apologize.”
The court documents show Galani, herself, said, “Imran Awan threatened that he is very powerful, and if I ever call the police again, [he] will … kidnap my family members back in Pakistan.”
The Daily Caller reported Galani escaped from the brothers and filed a second police complaint with Fairfax County for insurance fraud and other abuses.
In the court documents, Galani said Imran portrays himself abroad as a powerful person in Congress and travels with a VIP police escort in Pakistan, because of what he describes as his political power in the U.S.
In May, Imran’s wife, Hina, who may be a criminal suspect in the House hacking investigation, fled to Pakistan where she reportedly has “significant assets and VIP-level protection.”
According to a court document, Capitol Police confronted her at the airport but could not legally stop her from leaving the country. Customs searched her suitcase and found $12,400 in cash, but she was permitted to board the flight with her daughters. Police did not believe she intended to return to the U.S.
The Awans’ former co-workers, far from portraying the group as victims of Islamophobia, saw someone protecting them from behind the scenes.
“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,” said the manager of a company that provides high-tech services for House Democrats.
Wasserman Schultz embraces former Democratic Party nominee for president Hillary Clinton (Photo: Twitter)
“I don’t know what they have, but they have something on someone. It’s been months at this point,” Pat Sowers, who has managed IT for several House offices for 12 years, told the Daily Caller. “Something is rotten in Denmark.”
A House IT employee said the new technicians who took over offices formerly serviced by the Awans found some had all the office computer data sent to a secret offsite server.
Also discovered was a non-government iTunes account to which staffers’ iPhones were linked.
And yet, despite all the problems, the Awans reportedly worked for more congressional offices than any other IT group.
A Democratic IT contractor implied there was a cover-up, telling the Daily Caller that lawmakers are saying, “Don’t say anything, this will all blow over if we all don’t say anything.”
The technician said the Awans “had [members of Congress] in their pocket,” and “there are a lot of members who could go down over this.”
After word broke in February that Capitol Police were investigating the group and had blocked their access to the House computer system, most Democratic lawmakers fired the staffers.
However, Wasserman Schultz defended Awan, with whom she reportedly has a personal friendship, and refused to fire him.
After Awan’s arrest on Tuesday, a spokesman for the congresswoman finally announced she had fired Awan.
Ironically, it was the famous computer hack of the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, that cost Wasserman Schultz her job as party chairman, after leaked emails indicated she and other top party officials colluded to deny Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the presidential nomination in favor of Hillary Clinton.
After it became clear that the Awans were suspected of more than overcharging lawmakers for services and stealing equipment, but also stealing data, the FBI reportedly began assisting Capitol Police in the investigation.
Just Sunday, it was reported the FBI had seized smashed hard drives from Awan’s former residence.
WND reported Thursday that Wasserman Schultz apparently and abruptly decided to finally stop her seemingly inexplicable stonewall of investigators.
As WND also reported, U.S. Capitol Police seized one of her laptops months ago, hidden in a crevice in a House office building, as part of a criminal investigation into the suspected hacking of the office computers of potentially scores of House Democrats.
Not only had Wasserman Schultz refused for months to give investigators permission to inspect the contents of the laptop, she publicly threatened the chief of the Capitol Police, telling him during a May hearing there would be “consequences” if he did not return the item to her.
According to Fox News, investigators were apparently prevented from looking at the contents of the laptop without her permission by the Constitution’s “Speech and Debate” clause, which “bars law enforcement from interfering in lawmakers’ official congressional business,” and which “was designed to keep law enforcement from targeting lawmakers for their political views or legislative work.”
Of greatest concern to investigators is that Awan apparently had access to any and all of the sensitive, and/or confidential, information in her congressional computer system, including any material that could be politically embarrassing, as was the case with the hacked DNC emails which caused a disgraced Wasserman Schultz to resign as party chair on the eve of their national convention in 2016.
Awan’s associates apparently had the same access to the office computers of dozens of other Democrats.
The Awan brothers and their associates have been under criminal investigation since late 2016, suspected of secretly accessing lawmakers’ computer networks, storing information on secret servers and stealing equipment from Congress and overcharging for services.
After stonewalling for months, out of the blue came word that Wasserman Schultz’s attorney had begun negotiations with Capitol Police last week regarding the investigation. The congresswoman’s representatives wouldn’t say why she suddenly decided to cooperate with investigators after refusing to do so for months.
But just as mysterious as her sudden about-face has been why Wasserman Schultz refused to cooperate in the first place with an investigation into the hacking of her own office computer system, in which she was apparently the victim.
Although the Awans raked in millions over the years for their House IT work, they had severe financial problems including substantial debts and a million-dollar bankruptcy.
Security experts consider the combination money trouble and access to sensitive government information to be a bright red flag marking a security risk with the potential for blackmail.
Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the spin room of the 2012 CNN/Tea Party Debate in Tampa, Florida. (WND photo / Joe Kovacs)
The Awans were employed by three members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which store sensitive national security documents, including material related to terrorism, on their own committee servers.
Congressional committees dealing with national security are confident their computer systems were not compromised, but the length of the investigation suggests the FBI may be looking into whether sensitive material may have been illegally accessed on the individual computer systems of the Democratic lawmakers who employed the Awan group.
And, even if portrayed to WND as unlikely, it is not impossible lawmakers stored classified information on their own electronic devices, including office computers.
But information doesn’t have to be classified to be private, privileged, extremely sensitive and of the utmost importance. Or, embarrassment.
According to House IT workers, the term “classified” is used to describe secret and important material by spy agencies and intelligence committees, but not by regular members of Congress.
Sensitive material stored on their computers need not be related to national security to be so politically embarrassing as to be useful to a potential blackmailer.
When congressional staffers downplayed the significance of the Awan investigation because they apparently did not have access to classified information, multiple House IT workers told the Daily Caller that rankled them, because “those semantics misleadingly made it seem like they didn’t have access to extremely sensitive information.”
That was especially true because the Awans had installed everything on their clients’ systems, set up all the accounts and granted all the required permissions and restrictions, which effectively gave them full control over the lawmakers computer systems.
And their remote access meant lawmakers would never even know when the Awans were on their system.
A central IT worker said members of Congress were simply trying to ignore the seriousness of the problem, and “security of computer systems on the Hill is not really taken seriously.”
Five congressional IT aides told the Daily Caller they were baffled by the loyalty shown by those lawmakers who still had not fired Awan group suspects.
That led them to wonder if the lawmakers were being blackmailed.
Especially as there still had been no arrests until Tuesday.