Trump: DOJ must not let Wasserman Schultz, aide ‘off the hook’
President Donald Trump on Thursday urged the Justice Department to not let Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and one of her former aides “off the hook,” suggesting the imbroglio over IT staffer Imran Awan allegedly committing fraud on a home equity loan is “a key to much of the corruption we see today.”
“Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook,” the president tweeted. “The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today.”
The remarks come amid reports Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, are poised to strike a plea dealover the investigation into their alleged conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
Trump has publicly criticized his own Justice Department over the ongoing federal probe into Russian election meddling in 2016 and ties to his campaign while questioning why it has not more aggressively pursued alleged crimes by Democrats. “The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues,” Trump tweeted of the investigation last week, adding, “Should be looking at Dems corruption instead?”
He has upended norms with his apparent attempts to pressure the Justice Department and has repeatedly denigrated Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia probe.
In a statement provided by her spokesman, Wasserman Schultz replied to the president’s tweet: “I’m focused on doing my job. Donald Trump should focus on doing his.”
Wasserman Schultz — part of the target of his most recent attack — was notably a vocal supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections, during which she served as chair of the Democratic National Committee. Schultz resigned after the Democratic National Convention in 2016 amid criticisms of her handling of the primary bout between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and after the scandal surrounding the hacked DNC server.
Awan, a former House Democratic aide to Wasserman Schultz, was arrested on a bank fraud charge while trying to leave the country to travel to Pakistan in July. Accused of seeking to defraud the Congressional Federal Credit Union by obtaining a home equity loan for a rental property, in violation of the credit union’s policies, Awan pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In August, a grand jury widened the scope of the criminal indictment, with Awan and his wife facing new charges including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, making false statements on a loan or credit application, carrying out unlawful monetary transactions and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions. They pleaded not guilty to the charges in September.
Conservative legislators and lawmakers have panned Wasserman Schultz for continuing to employ the IT staffer for months after he became the subject of criminal investigation. Awan was on the payroll for Wasserman Schultz until his indictment in July. Awan, who has worked for over two dozen House Democrats, has been at the center of a criminal probe related to alleged procurement theft on Capitol Hill.
House Republicans have raised questions over whether Awan’s work posed a national security threat.
Trump on Thursday implicated efforts to strike a plea deal in the Awan case as part of a conspiracy to obscure information on Democratic servers.
“They want to make a ‘plea deal’ to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!” Trump added on Twitter.