The Department of Justice said this month that it could not release records on Democrat technology aide Imran Awan due to “technical difficulties,” but later admitted in court documents that it could not release records on him because there is a secret ongoing case related to the matter.
“Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit Nov. 7, 2018, for 7,000 pages of Capitol Police records related to the cybersecurity investigation, and Aug. 2, the DOJ agreed to begin producing records by Nov. 5,” Daily Caller News Foundation investigative reporter Luke Rosiak reported. “That deadline came and went with no records being produced; on a Nov. 13 phone call, the DOJ said ‘technical difficulties’ had resulted in a delay, Judicial Watch stated in a court filing.”
In a newly released court filing, the Department of Justice wrote:
Pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan, who is presiding over a related sealed criminal matter the Government is prohibited from disclosing certain information pursuant to formal and informal information request in this matter. The Government advised Judge Chutkan of the instant FOIA matter and sought clarification from Judge Chutkan concerning the Government’s permissible response in light of her Order in the sealed matter. Defendant received the clarification December 5, 2019, the date of this filing, that permitted Defendant to say the following: The Government is prohibited from disclosing any information pursuant to an Order issued by the Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan. …
…The “difficulties” in providing responsive material was due to the unexpected and unique set of facts described above that was out of the control of the Defendant. Defendant’s only motivation was to maintain the integrity of the sealed matter as much as possible, until the issuing Court provided guidance.
The DCNF noted that the DOJ had said it closed the investigation into Awan in 2018 in which Awan entered a plea deal where he pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud.
After the DOJ closed the case, President Donald Trump weighed in on the matter, tweeting, “Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a ‘plea deal’ to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!”
Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a “plea deal” to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
U.S. Attorney Benton Peterson told U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta, who is presiding over the FOIA lawsuit that was filed by Judicial Watch, that DOJ was set to release a “cache of documents,” but that he was informed of a “sealing order” in the case and that he “couldn’t discuss the sealing order.”
Mehta reportedly responded by acknowledging that “typically when criminal cases have concluded, the materials become public and I don’t know whether there’s any relationship between the judge’s order and that case … The seal Judge Chutkan has ordered, is that itself sealed?”
“That’s under seal as well,” Peterson responded.
“Court records that have since been erased suggest that far from prosecuting the Awans for new crimes, the ‘sealed’ matter might be because Chutkan agreed to essentially expunge records related to Awan’s wife Hina Alvi — a request that was strongly opposed by the DOJ itself as unfounded and extraordinary,” The DCNF added. “Sometime in the past few months – as the FOIA lawsuit heated up – Chutkan appears to have belatedly granted the proposed seal or something similar. The proposed motion to seal and the government’s opposition are apparently gone from the court docket, and Alvi’s name has been removed – though all 80 documents pertaining to the Imran Awan case remain.”
Rosiak, who garnered significant national attention for his reporting on the Awan case at the DCNF, wrote in a separate report a list of things to know about Awan. Here are some of the key points:
During the 2016 election, the House’s Office of Inspector General warned that Imran and his family were making “unauthorized access” to data
Shortly after the IG report came out in September 2016, the Caucus server – identified as prime evidence in the cybersecurity case – physically disappeared
Wasserman Schultz declined to fire Imran despite knowing he was suspected of cyber-security violations, even though she had just lost her job as DNC chair after its anemic handling of its data breach
After Imran was banned from the network, he left a laptop with the username RepDWS in a phone booth
A former business partner of Imran’s father says the father handed over USBs of data to a Pakistani official and that Imran claimed he [had] power to ‘change the U.S. president’
The cybersecurity investigation started after allegedly falsified invoices caught administrators’ attention, and the Awans’ lawyers blamed members
Read Rosiak’s full report here.