And it just keeps getting weirder, folks.
The New York Post reported Saturday that former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT staffer — the one recently indicted after his arrest at a DC-area airport as he attempted to flee the country back to Pakistan — may have been involved in the sale of sensitive data to Pakistan and even Russia.
Federal authorities are investigating whether sensitive data was stolen from congressional offices by several Pakistani-American tech staffers and sold to Pakistani or Russian intelligence, knowledgeable sources say.
What started out 16 months ago as a scandal involving the alleged theft of computer equipment from Congress has turned into a national security investigation involving FBI surveillance of the suspects.
Investigators now suspect that sensitive US government data — possibly including classified information — could have been compromised and may have been sold to hostile foreign governments that could use it to blackmail members of Congress or even put their lives at risk.
“This is a massive, massive scandal,” a senior US official familiar with the widening probe told The Post.
Basically, back in April 2016, network security officials working with the House of Representatives were alerted to a possible procurement scam involving hundreds of thousands of dollars that was supposed to be used to buy computer equipment. That led to an internal investigation and an eventual Capitol Police probe. Imran Awan, his two brothers, his wife and a family friend (some of whom had little IT experience and ended up making as much as a House Chief of Staff) were fingered in the probe and fired in February of this year.
However, before their firing and banishment from the networks on the Hill, Imran defrauded the federal credit union to the tune of close to $300,000, which he then wired to Pakistan as his wife fled to that country with their children. And Wasserman Schultz kept him on payroll until his arrest last month.
Now it looks as though the Awan crime family were routing sensitive information — emails, research, communiques between high ranking members of possibly the Intel and Foreign Relations Committees — to an offsite server, and may have been selling the information to hostile foreign entities.
Luke Rosiak at The Daily Caller, who has been on this story from jump and helped keep it alive enough to get it the attention it’s now receiving, is also reporting that at least one House side Dem office that employed the grifters promptly looked the other way and wrote off their $120K procurement theft as a loss.
A chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke quietly agreed in early 2016 to sign away a $120,000 missing electronics problem on behalf of two former IT aides now suspected of stealing equipment from Congress, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
Clarke’s chief of staff at the time effectively dismissed the loss and prevented it from coming up in future audits by signing a form removing the missing equipment from a House-wide tracking system after one of the Awan brothers alerted the office the equipment was gone. The Pakistani-born brothers are now at the center of an FBI investigation over their IT work with dozens of Congressional offices.
This is a huge story that keeps getting bigger. And yet, when I chatted with my family back in Atlanta about eclipse-related things and asked if they’d seen the latest on the Awan scandal, they were in the dark about the widening investigation into what is looking more and more like cyberespionage linked to Democrats (and involving, ironically, Russia). Some conservative pundits are asking the right questions (like Michelle Malkin, who wondered back in early August about the immigration status and work visa eligibility for the crime family), but the major national media has kept this story firmly in the background.
Where, pray tell, are the mainstream media outlets covering this story? Where is CNN? The Washington Post? The New York Times? To be sure, they’ve had some coverage, but nothing like what’s warranted for a story involving the theft of, all told with salaries included, millions in taxpayers dollars and possible national security implications that are disturbing to say the least.
As GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel notes on Twitter:
Investigators now suspect IT staffers may have compromised govt info & sold to enemies. And where's the media??https://t.co/SFeWIl6Rzm
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) August 21, 2017
There seems to be something of a media blackout regarding this story. An eclipse, if you will. Fortunately, those only last a short time.