There is a lot of chatter in legal circles, particularly on the conservative side of the political fence, about the indictment handed down on Thursday of Imran Awan, the Pakistani-born computer technician working for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) whose little congressional empire came crashing down amid a Capitol Police investigation into missing computer equipment, the potential for theft of sensitive government information and suspected blackmail of members of Congress.
Awan wasn’t indicted on Thursday for any of the things he’s been in the news for since February. That in and of itself isn’t particularly suspicious; one would get the impression that investigation would be long-lasting and would need to include Awan’s brothers and a handful of other members of his clan, all of whom got jobs as IT workers for Democrat congressmen (including Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who has yet to be asked a single question about his role in this scandal so far as we’ve seen), and would be expected to last a bit longer.
Nevertheless, there are some alarm bells going off about the indictment, and for good reason. It’s not an unreasonable suspicion that the US Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, which brought the indictment, could be intentionally blowing the case.
Awan and his wife Hina Alvi were indicted on bank fraud, a charge stemming from the fact they borrowed nearly $300,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union under dubious circumstances and then wired the money to Pakistan. Alvi then fled to that country, carrying on her person some $12,000; that is illegal in and of itself, as federal law says any amount more than $10,000 has to carry with it a federal form containing information on things like the provenance of that cash, its intended use and so forth. She was detained at the airport on her way out but for some reason let out of the country and the feds don’t expect her ever to return. Now that she’s been indicted and so has her husband, it’s more of less obvious she won’t be back.
National Review’s Andrew McCarthy took a deep dive into the indictment and was perplexed, to put it mildly, by the failure of the indictment to include this information and the fact Awan was also detained at the airport as he attempted to flee to Pakistan.
Well, here’s a peculiar thing about the Justice Department’s indictment of Imran Awan and Hina Alvi, the alleged fraudster couple who doubled as IT wizzes for Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many other congressional Democrats: There’s not a word in it about flight to Pakistan. The indictment undertakes to describe in detail four counts of bank-fraud conspiracy, false statements on credit applications, and unlawful monetary transactions, yet leaves out the most damning evidence of guilt.
In fact, the indictment appears to go out of its way not to mention it.
McCarthy is bothered by more flaws in the indictment than just the omission of the attempt to flee.
It is common Justice Department practice, in pleading a conspiracy indictment, to allege that the scheme began “on or about” its starting date and continued “up to and including the date of the filing of this indictment.” Strictly speaking, a conspiracy ends when the crime that is its objective has been completed. But there is no requirement that a specific end date be set forth in the indictment. Therefore, prosecutors go as long as they can — i.e., right up to the date the grand jury voted to indict — to give themselves the widest berth possible to argue that evidence damaging to the defense is relevant and admissible.
But that is not what happened in the Awan indictment. The Justice Department alleges that the conspiracy took place “from on or about December 12, 2016 through on or about February 27, 2017.” February 27 was six days before Alvi fled and five months before Awan was arrested trying to leave the country.
This makes no sense. Indeed, it does not even make sense in the context of the narrow scheme prosecutors have charged: Although the indictment says the conspiracy ended on February 27, it alleges a relevant $83,000 interbank transfer occurred on February 28 (see indictment, paragraphs 8 and 22). That is, prosecutors assert that a money transfer supposedly in furtherance of the conspiracy happened a day after the conspiracy was already over.
The effect of this, McCarthy surmises, could be that Awan’s defense attorney – a former Clinton campaign flunky named Christopher Bowen – could get all evidence of Alvi’s flight out of the country, and Awan’s attempted flight as well, tossed as inadmissible since it’s not in the indictment and therefore kill the bank fraud case against the Awans. If the jury doesn’t get to know that these people had attempted to follow the money they took from the credit union out of the country, it’s a lot more plausible that they’re working on paying it back and thus there is no bank fraud.
And if there is no bank fraud and the Awans aren’t in legal jeopardy from this indictment, the chances of getting them to confess to the other things they’ve been investigated for get a lot smaller.
Maybe that’s by design. Bowen’s statement after Awan was picked up in late July attempting to flee the country read like a political campaign press release, full of partisan charges and vitriol about how his client is the victim of an Islamophobic witch hunt and so forth. It was so overheated that one couldn’t help but think the speculation Awan may have stolen a great deal of sensitive information from clients on the House intelligence, foreign relations and homeland security committees, and perhaps bribed some of his clients as well, had some meat on its bones.
And one wouldn’t be off base in thinking that if these things were true a large number of Awan’s clients would really like to see this whole thing just go away. Particularly given how far down the rabbit hole something like this could lead. Wasserman Schultz was the chair of the Democrat National Committee, after all, and the DNC’s e-mails were leaked to Wikileaks, after all, something the party has gone to great lengths to blame on Russia without as much evidence as one might have expected for so serious a charge.
And why would the Justice Department go along with throwing a case like this and setting the stage for the whole thing to be covered up?
Well, the Trump administration has a nominee for the US Attorney job in DC. His name is Jesse Liu and he was nominated in June. But Liu doesn’t have the job yet because Democrats in the Senate are holding up his confirmation. In the meantime the acting US Attorney whose office generated the Awan indictment is Channing D. Phillips, who was appointed to that position in October of 2015. Phillips’ background, from his official bio, would make one believe he’s a pretty loyal Democrat…
Mr. Phillips has been serving as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia since October 19, 2015 pursuant to the Attorney General’s appointment authority and subsequently by an Order of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Mr. Phillips’ confirmation is pending with the United States Senate.
Mr. Phillips formerly served as counselor to the Attorney General, and also served as the Executive Director for the Attorney General’s Diversity Management Advisory Council and was the day-to-day coordinator for diversity-management issues within the Department and the Department’s primary contact for external agencies on these issues.
If you noticed that Phillips has never undergone a Senate confirmation, you win a prize. Why he wasn’t asked to resign along with the rest of the Obama US Attorneys is a hell of a question; our guess is that was a political fight Trump decided not to have.
And if the name Channing Phillips rings a bell, it’s because his father was placed in nomination for president at the 1968 Democrat National Convention and received 68 votes, making him the first black American ever to have been in the presidential nomination game at a major party convention.
You’ll forgive us for being suspicious that the US Attorney’s office in DC, on the roster of which sits one Steven Wasserman, the brother of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and which is headed by a never-confirmed Obama appointee who looks an awful lot like Mr. Democrat Party, would put out an indictment this sloppy in the Awan case. We’re becoming jaded and suspicious in our old age.
Experience, especially when it comes to Democrat corruption, has had that effect on us.