“While reviewing the inventory, the CAO discovered that the serial number of the server did not match that of the one imaged in September.”
The Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak continues to do a great job with the story about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz’s former IT aide Irwan Awan and his family.
The publication received a memo dated February 3, 2017, from Congress’s top cop Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving to the Committee on House Administration (CHA). Irving and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Phil Kiko wrote that the House Democratic Caucus’s server disappeared after it became evidence in the cybersecurity probe against Awan.
The two men “concluded that the employees [Democratic systems administrator Imran Awan and his family] are an ongoing and serious risk to the House of Representatives, possibly threatening the integrity of our information systems and thereby members’ capacity to serve constituents.”
*UPDATE: The DOJ has decided not to prosecute Awan due to a plea deal he signed.
From The Daily Caller:
It details how the caucus server, run by then-caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra, was secretly copied by authorities after the House Inspector General (IG) identified suspicious activity on it, but the Awans’ physical access was not blocked.
But after, the report reads, the server appears to have been secretly replaced with one that looked similar.
The memo called for firing the Pakistani-born aides, revoking all their computer accounts, and changing the locks on any door they had access to.
The February 2017 memo itemizes “numerous and egregious violations of House IT security” by members of the Awan family, including using Congress members’ usernames and “the unauthorized storage of sensitive House information outside the House.”
“These employees accessed user accounts and computers for offices that did not employ them, without the knowledge and permission of the impacted Member’s office,” it said, adding, “4 of the employees accessed the Democratic Caucus computers 5,735 times.” More than 100 office computers were open to access from people not on the office’s staff, it said.
The Daily Caller provided this outline from the memo:
• In September of 2016 … the CHA and [IG] briefed the former Chairman of the Democratic Caucus about suspicious activity related to their server that the [IG] identified. As a result, the former Chairman of the Democratic Caucus directed the CAO to copy the data from their server and two computers.
• The CHA directed the IG to refer the matter to the US Capitol Police. The USCP initiated an investigation that continues to this day.
• In late 2016, the former Chairman of the Democratic Caucus announced his intention to resign from Congress to assume a new position. The CAO and [sergeant-at-arms] worked with the Chairman to account for his inventory, including the one server.
• While reviewing the inventory, the CAO discovered that the serial number of the server did not match that of the one imaged in September. [Investigators] also discovered that the server in question [the replacement server] was still operating under the employee’s control, contrary to the explicit instructions of the former chairman to turn over all equipment and fully cooperate with the inquiry and investigation. [A House source said the “employee” was Abid Awan.]
• The USCP interviewed relevant staff regarding the missing server.
• On January 24, 2017, the CAO acquired the [replacement] server from the control of the employees and transferred that server to the USCP.
The IG report published in September 2016 detailed how “Becerra knew of problems months before the server disappeared.” In one instance, Becerra asked “one of the shared employees to not provide IT services or access their computers,” but the employee continued to do so.
An official identified that shared employee as Abid Awan, the sister-in-law to Irwan and the Caucus’s systems administrator.
Sources told The Daily Caller that soon after the IG released the report the server went missing. One official close to the CHA claimed that the Awan family “deliberately turned over a fake server” in order “to falsify evidence.”
So Irving sent this memo to CHA in February 2017, but Democrats insist no one told them about the cybersecurity issues:
Rep. Jackie Speier — a California Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who employed Imran and his wife, Hina Alvi — said she never heard of any missing server.
Joaquin Castro of Texas — another Democratic intelligence committee member who employed one of the Awans — told TheDCNF that Kiko never told him of any cybersecurity issues whatsoever and that the Awan probe was instead described as a theft issue.
What did CHA do? It only pushed out one statement and titled it “House Theft investigation.” It had nothing about the cybersecurity issues and was so vague:
“House Officials became aware of suspicious activity and alleged theft committed by certain House IT support staff. An internal investigation determined that a number of House policies and procedures had been violated. This information was turned over to the United States Capitol Police and their investigation is ongoing. These employees have also been blocked from accessing House systems. All offices impacted have been contacted. No further comment will be issued until the investigation is complete.”
This whole story came to light in July 2017 when the FBI arrested Imran for alleged bank fraud, which is what the Democrats have latched onto as a way to brush aside this scandal. But as The Daily Caller points out, Imran’s bank fraud case “does not explain why the Awans were kicked off the House network concurrent with the urgent memo, which did not cite bank fraud.”
Even if the Awans didn’t cause a cybersecurity nightmare in the House the bank fraud portion of this scandal is enough to cause problems for the Democrats…especially since it also shows how far the members went to in order to protect the family.
The Daily Caller wrote that Imran will go to “court on July 3 for a possible plea deal in the bank fraud case.”
Wendy Anderson once worked as the chief of staff for Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY). When Anderson was deputy chief of staff, she found Abid Awan “rummaging through the congresswoman’s work area with new iPods and other equipment strewn around the room, according to a House document and interviews with Hill staff.” She told him to leave and suspected that then-chief of staff Shelley David worked “with Abid on a theft scheme.”
Anderson pushed her boss to fire Abid, but that didn’t happen right away:
But Clarke did not fire Abid until six months after the congresswoman formally acknowledged that $120,000 in equipment was missing, records show — not until after House investigators independently announced a review that would potentially catch financial discrepancies. Even then, Anderson told investigators she believed another top staffer in Clarke’s office was subverting their efforts, a House staffer with knowledge of the investigation said.
Once Anderson became responsible for the office’s finances, she found that Clarke’s office had for years been ordering abnormal quantities of equipment, much with seemingly dubious business value, she later told House investigators, according to multiple congressional officials with knowledge of the probe who spoke with TheDCNF. After some investigating, Anderson told investigators she believed Davis was working with Abid to steal taxpayer funds, the officials said.
“She thought that Shelley and Omar had too tight of a relationship,” one said. “She’d been going through old email and could see that it basically smacked of Omar was ordering stuff for Shelley and there was no business reason.” Anderson gave House officials copies of those emails, the source said.
“She said to Abid, ‘I want to do an inventory of the office,’ and he couldn’t come up with $120,000 [in equipment], so he said, ‘Oh I don’t know, people lost it,” the source said.
The sum amounted to one-tenth of the office’s entire annual budget.
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