Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) was one of the primary employers of several Pakistani IT staffers now under criminal investigation.
One of the staffers, Imran Awan, reportedly took a laptop belonging to Wasserman Schultz, who was the DNC Chairwoman at the time she employed him. The Pakistanis, who were all members of the same family, had been given unrestricted access to confidential files and correspondence.
The laptop was confiscated by the U.S. Capitol Police and is being held as evidence, as the criminal investigation is still underway, and the Awans are suspected of massive security breaches, including transferring sensitive and confidential data offsite.
Wasserman Schultz wants her laptop back, and threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” in a Thursday hearing, if it is not returned to her.
As a member of the committee that sets the budget for the Capitol Police force, Wasserman Schultz’s threats are being interpreted as attempting to interfere with a criminal investigation.
At the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz asked the police chief, “I’d like to know how Capitol Police handle equipment that belongs to a member or a staffer that’s been lost within the Capitol complex and found or recovered by one of your officers.”
Chief Matthew Verderosa responded that generally the equipment would be processed and then returned, once ownership was established, but “if it’s part of an ongoing case, then there are other things that have to occur for that to happen.”
Wasserman Schultz continued to push the issue, claiming that she was asking about cases where the owners of the stolen property were not under investigation themselves.
“If I—if a member loses equipment and it is found by the Capitol police or your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case… it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?” Wasserman Schultz demanded.
“It depends on the circumstances,” he replied.
“I don’t understand how that’s possible,” she retorted.
“I think there’s extenuating circumstances in this case and I think that working through my counsel and the necessary personnel, if that in fact is the case and with the permission of the investigation, we will return the equipment. But until that’s accomplished, I can’t return the equipment,” Verderosa told her.
Wasserman Schultz issued her threat, stating, “I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way, and should expect that there would be consequences.”
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