The family of four Pakistani-Americans had unusual access to Congressional computers, for years, in the innermost sanctums of the US Capitol and in the offices of dozens of national lawmakers.
Then a standard requisition form linked to the IT workers appeared to show missing money. It sparked a Capitol Police probe that led to accusations of stolen equipment and breached computer networks. Conservative pols and media outlets sounded the alarm — state secrets and our very safety from Islamic terrorism was at risk.
Outrage grew as some liberal Congress members called the probe a Muslim witch hunt. One prominent Democrat defiantly continued to employ a suspect.
Finally, to the relief of many, the FBI entered the picture. And last week, after months of wild speculation, an arrest was announced.
The feds had gotten their man — but it wasn’t for terrorism, espionage or treason. It was for a single count of bank fraud involving lying on a home-equity loan application.
The immense gulf between the fears and the facts, the allegations and the actual criminal charges, has only served to deepen the mystery surrounding the Awan family. Several Republicans are demanding hearings to determine just how serious the illegal activity is in the “House IT Scandal.”
The arrest of 37-year-old Imran Awan on July 24 came as he was leaving the country on a flight to Qatar en route to Pakistan, where he had wired the proceeds of the $165,000 loan, adding another element of intrigue to the case.
“Congress needs answers regarding the scope of Awan’s misconduct and the access he had to the House network,” said Rep. Ron De Santis (R-Florida), a member of the Government Oversight Committee.
DeSantis last week asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for clarification on what action the government was taking and called the transfer of money to Pakistan “particularly alarming as Pakistan is home to numerous terrorist organizations.”
Texas Republican Louis Gohmert questioned the background checks done on the IT workers, suggesting their access to even mundane details could prove valuable to some.
“There are foreign governments and even multinational corporations who would pay a lot of money to get access just to emails and calendars of members of Congress on committees controlling issues critical to them,” Gohmert said.
Meanwhile, a watchdog group is asking for an ethics probe into Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat who continued to employ…