‘Big fish’ Debbie Wasserman Schultz watches as ‘small fish’ start to cut deals

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaks at a rally, before the arrival of Hillary Clinton in Miami. REUTERS/Scott Audette

American Thinker, by Thomas Lifson, Sept. 7, 2017:

It’s starting to look as though Imran Awan and his wife Hina Alvi are making plea deals and incriminating people above them in the food chain.  Both of them were I.T. staffers for Democrats in the House of Representatives, earning substantial multiples of customary wages, raising intense suspicions of blackmail.

Ms. Alvi reportedly has already made a deal and will be returning to the U.S. from her native Pakistan, where she earlier fled.  Her husband was arrested at Dulles Airport, attempting to do the same.  Todd Shepherd reports in the Examiner:

A document filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia indicates that federal prosecutors have struck a deal with Alvi that would allow her to return to the U.S., but would also require her to surrender her passport and afterwards not book any international travel. The deal only surrounds how Alvi will turn herself in, and is structured so that she can avoid being arrested in front of her children when she returns to the U.S., “during the last week of September 2017.”

Alvi, and Awan in particular, are the focus of investigations by the FBI and Capitol Police regarding irregularities for purchases of some computers and other equipment which was later discovered to be missing. The pair, and their associates, could have had access to sensitive government information over the years.

We don’t know if Awan has made a deal yet, but his wife would not be returning if that were unlikely.  In fact, thanks to the work of Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller, we have to consider the possibility that Awan has been playing a double- or triple-game since last April.

A laptop that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has frantically fought to keep prosecutors from examining may have been planted for police to find by her since-indicted staffer, Imran Awan, along with a letter to the U.S. Attorney.

U.S. Capitol Police found the laptop after midnight April 6, 2017, in a tiny room that formerly served as a phone booth in the Rayburn House Office Building, according to a Capitol Police report reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group. Alongside the laptop were a Pakistani ID card, copies of Awan’s driver’s license and congressional ID badge, and letters to the U.S. attorney. Police also found notes in a composition notebook marked “attorney-client privilege.”

This happened four months after Awan had been banned from the House I.T. network, so he had realized he was in trouble for quite some time, even if DWS kept paying him his salary and he was able to get access to the network via her office.  It was enough time for him to plot and plan.  And it does look as if the material was intended to be discovered, not somehow accidentally left behind:

The laptop was found on the second floor of the Rayburn building – a place Awan would have had no reason to go because Wasserman Schultz’s office is in the Longworth building and the other members who employed him had fired him. (snip)

Leaving important items there accidentally would seem extremely unlikely, according to Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, former prosecutor, and member of the House Judiciary Committee.

“Imran Awan is a calculating person who made great efforts to cover his tracks, both electronically and physically,” Gohmert told TheDCNF. “Placing that laptop with his personal documents, which may well incriminate him, those he worked for, or both, in the dead of night in a House office building, was a deliberate act by a cunning suspect, and it needs to be investigated.”

If Awan thought he was better off with his crimes documented, that suggests he feared something worse than prison, that this was a matter of life insurance.

There are signs that DWS is panicking.  Wasserman Schultz first claimed that the laptop was hers and notoriously harangued the Capitol Police to return it to her on that basis.

Now she is claiming that it was Awan’s and that she had never seen it.  Yet:

Wasserman Schultz has hired an outside counsel, William Pittard, to argue that the laptop not be examined. Pittard argued that the speech and debate clause – which only protects a member’s information directly related to legislative duties – should prevent prosecutors from examining the laptop’s contents, TheDCNF has learned. Pittard did not respond to requests for comment.

Pittard, a partner with KaiserDillon, is the former acting general counsel of the House. Hiring an outside counsel to argue the speech and debate clause on behalf of Wasserman Schultz is highly unusual, because the general counsel of the House offers opinions on speech and debate issues for free.

That can’t be cheap. There must be material on that laptop that that is incriminating.  Very incriminating.  Perhaps of DWS, perhaps of some of the other House Democrats who hired the Awan gang.

Debbie is already distancing herself from Awan:

http://launch.newsinc.com/share.html?trackingGroup=69016&siteSection=91212_pp&videoId=32870391

Mark Steyn: Dem IT Scandal Is Worse than Russia and Nobody’s Interested in It

Abid Awan, a House IT technician suspected in a security breach, leaves court after separately being accused of insurance fraud. DCNF photo

PJ Media, by Debra Heine, Aug. 31, 2017:

“Basically everything people have been looking for in the so-called Russia investigation is actually here in the more or less uncovered Imran Awan investigation,” political commentator Mark Steyn argued on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight Wednesday evening.

He brought up the latest shoe to drop in the growing scandal, which was broken this week by Luke Rosiak in The Daily Caller, as a prime example.

“This guy [Imran Awan] had his access to House email withdrawn because he was a security risk, yet he still had a House email,” said Steyn incredulously.

“This story is malodorous to a degree that nothing surrounding Trump’s involvement in the Miss Universe Pageant in St. Petersburg … is at all … and nobody’s interested in it!” he continued.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz in recent weeks has defended her decision to keep Awan — a suspect in a criminal investigation —  on as an employee even after he was arrested by claiming that he is a victim of anti-Islamic bigotry.

“He’s a civil-rights martyr,” Carlson remarked sarcastically.

“He’s been accused of browsing while Muslim,”  Steyn snarked in reply.

“She [Wasserman Schultz] has already attempted to intimidate and obstruct the investigation,” said Steyn, referring to her threat last May that there would “be consequences” if U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa did not return her laptop.

“As you know, she demanded the return of her laptop from the policeman investigating this…..it’s on camera and it’s the interference with a police investigation that everyone’s accusing Trump of doing with James Comey and all those guys!” Steyn exclaimed. “So everything they’ve been … sniffing around Trump for with the Russia investigation … is staring them in the face with this thing!”

“Man, if we ever get a Republican-controlled Congress, maybe they’ll investigate it,” Carlson piped in, sarcastically again.

Steyn ended the segment with a humorous riff on Hillary Clinton’s book tour which, according to a press release, promises to be “surprisingly funny.”

“I thought election night was surprisingly funny,” Steyn deadpanned.

He joked that there are scores of “Saudi princes and Sudanese warlords” who are upset with Clinton only charging North Americans $2400 to meet her.

“That’s bargain-basement prices for a meet and greet,” he said. Speaking for the Saudis and Sudanese, he added, “I had to pay four million dollars to the Clinton Foundation and sit through a speech on diarrhea in Africa from Chelsea [Clinton] before I could get a meet and greet with Hillary Clinton.”

He called both events a “hell of a steal.”

Also see:

IT staffers may have compromised sensitive data to foreign intelligence

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (left) and Imran Awan

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, Aug. 19, 2017:

Federal authorities are investigating whether sensitive data was stolen from congressional offices by several Pakistani-American tech staffers and sold to Pakistani or Russian intelligence, knowledgeable sources say.

What started out 16 months ago as a scandal involving the alleged theft of computer equipment from Congress has turned into a national-security investigation involving FBI surveillance of the suspects.

Investigators now suspect that sensitive US government data — possibly including classified information — could have been compromised and may have been sold to hostile foreign governments that could use it to blackmail members of Congress or even put their lives at risk.

“This is a massive, massive scandal,” a senior US official familiar with the widening probe told The Post.

Alarm bells went off in April 2016 when computer security officials in the House reported “irregularities” in computer equipment purchasing. An internal investigation revealed the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in government property, and evidence pointed to five IT staffers and the Democratic Congress members’ offices that employed them.

The evidence was turned over to the House inspector general, who found so much “smoke” that she recommended a criminal probe, sources say. The case was turned over to Capitol Police in October.

When the suspected IT workers couldn’t produce the missing invoiced equipment, sources say, they were removed from working on the computer network in early February.

During the probe, investigators found valuable government data that is believed to have been taken from the network and placed on offsite servers, setting off more alarms. Some 80 offices were potentially compromised.

Most lawmakers fired the alleged “ringleader” — longtime IT staffer Imran Awan — in February. But Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chief, kept Awan on her payroll until his arrest last month on seemingly unrelated charges of defrauding the congressional credit union.

For more than a decade, Awan, his wife, two relatives and a friend worked for 30 House Democrats. They included New York City pols Gregory Meeks, Joseph Crowley and Yvette Clarke and members of the sensitive Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees.

The Democrats who hired the five suspects apparently did a poor job vetting them. Awan’s brother Abid had a rap sheet with multiple offenses, including a conviction for DWI a month before he was hired, and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Most had relatively little IT experience. Yet they hauled in a combined $4 million-plus over the past decade. One, a former McDonald’s worker, was suddenly making as much as a chief of staff.

“These lawmakers allowed an insider threat to come into the House,” the official charged. “Computer equipment was stolen, taxpayers were robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sensitive data was compromised and possibly sold overseas.”

On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Imran Awan on four seemingly unrelated felony counts including bank fraud, conspiracy and making false statements. They also indicted his wife, Hina Alvi. FBI agents seized hard drives and other evidence from their Virginia home.

The indictment says the couple wired close to $300,000 in fraudulently obtained funds to Pakistan in January, as the Capitol Police investigation heated up.

FBI agents last month collared Awan, 37, at the Dulles International Airport airport as he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. Alvi, 33, fled to Pakistan in March.

Now that prosecutors have Awan hung up on the fraud charges, they will try to squeeze him harder in the larger cyberespionage investigation, according to the US official, who expects additional charges and arrests in the case.

Awan’s lawyer, Christopher Gowen, who has worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaigns as well as the Clinton Foundation, maintained that his client was only indicted “for working while Muslim.”

The investigation has touched Democratic leaders including Wasserman Schultz, who has been accused of protecting Awan. She stuck by her close aide, despite being briefed several months ago by House administrators and security officials about his “suspicious activities” on the Hill, sources say.

Wasserman Schultz attempted to downplay his alleged conduct, saying he was “transferring data outside the secure network, which I think amounted to use of apps that the House didn’t find compliant with our security requirements.” Such transfers though, could be a serious, potentially illegal, violation.

The US Attorney’s Office in Washington has taken possession of a laptop issued to Awan from Wasserman Schultz’s office, according to the sources, and she has reportedly retained counsel.

Earlier this year, she badgered the Capitol Police chief to return the laptop to her, even threatening him with “consequences.”

The congresswoman could not be reached for comment, but she recently told a local paper that scrutiny of her Muslim aide was motivated by “racial and ethnic profiling.”

Awan had access to Wasserman Schultz’s e-mails at both Congress and the DNC, where he had been given the password to her iPad. After DNC e-mails and research files were stolen during the presidential election, Wasserman Schultz reportedly refused to turn over the server to the FBI and instead called in a private firm to investigate and ID the hackers. The firm blamed the Russian government, while admitting, “We don’t have hard evidence.” The corrupted DNC server, held in storage, still has not been examined by the FBI.

Wasserman Schultz denies the DNC turned down the FBI’s assistance or that her congressional or DNC e-mails were compromised by Awan.

“This whole investigation pivots off Debbie Wasserman Schultz,” the official said.

“It’s clear that large bytes of data were moved off the secure network,” said another source close to the investigation, adding that Awan and the other four staffers under investigation had “full and complete access” to lawmakers’ e-mails, calendars, schedules, hearing notes, meeting notes and memos and other sensitive information.

Investigators are trying to determine if any classified information was compromised. Although the network that was breached is an unclassified system, it’s possible that members or staff cleared to handle classified information inadvertently sent such information in e-mails after getting classified briefings, sources believe.

“Logic dictates that sensitive data was compromised,” the senior official speculated. “An accused criminal with close ties to Pakistan had full and complete control over data that went out over the network.”

Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Pakistani IT Scammers

National Review, by Andrew McCarthy, July 29, 2017:

In Washington, it’s never about what they tell you it’s about. So take this to the bank: The case of Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s mysterious Pakistani IT guy, is not about bank fraud.

Yet bank fraud was the stated charge on which Awan was arrested at Dulles Airport this week, just as he was trying to flee the United States for Pakistan, via Qatar. That is the same route taken by Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, in March, when she suddenly fled the country, with three young daughters she yanked out of school, mega-luggage, and $12,400 in cash.

By then, the proceeds of the fraudulent $165,000 loan they’d gotten from the Congressional Federal Credit Union had been sent ahead. It was part of a $283,000 transfer that Awan managed to wire from Capitol Hill. He pulled it off — hilariously, if infuriatingly — by pretending to be his wife in a phone call with the credit union. Told that his proffered reason for the transfer (“funeral arrangements”) wouldn’t fly, “Mrs.” Awan promptly repurposed: Now “she” was “buying property.” Asking no more questions, the credit union wired the money . . . to Pakistan.

As you let all that sink in, consider this: Awan and his family cabal of fraudsters had access for years to the e-mails and other electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. It turns out they were accessing members’ computers without their knowledge, transferring files to remote servers, and stealing computer equipment — including hard drives that Awan & Co. smashed to bits of bytes before making tracks.

They were fired in February. All except Awan, that is. He continued in the employ of Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat, former DNC chairwoman, and Clinton crony. She kept him in place at the United States Congress right up until he was nabbed at the airport on Monday.

This is not about bank fraud. The Awan family swindles are plentiful, but they are just window-dressing. This appears to be a real conspiracy, aimed at undermining American national security.

At the time of his arrest, the 37-year-old Imran Awan had been working for Democrats as an information technologist for 13 years. He started out with Representative Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) in 2004. The next year, he landed on the staff of Wasserman Schultz, who had just been elected to the House.

Congressional-staff salaries are modest, in the $40,000 range. For some reason, Awan was paid about four times as much. He also managed to get his wife, Alvi, on the House payroll . . . then his brother, Abid Awan . . . then Abid’s wife, Natalia Sova. The youngest of the clan, Awan’s brother Jamal, came on board in 2014 — the then-20-year-old commanding an annual salary of $160,000.

A few of these arrangements appear to have been sinecures: While some Awans were rarely seen around the office, we now know they were engaged in extensive financial shenanigans away from the Capitol. Nevertheless, the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak, who has been all over this story, reports that, for their IT “work,” the Pakistani family has reeled in $4 million from U.S. taxpayers since 2009.

That’s just the “legit” dough. The family business evidently dabbles in procurement fraud, too. The Capitol Police and FBI are exploring widespread double-billing for computers, other communication devices, and related equipment.

Why were they paid so much for doing so little? Intriguing as it is, that’s a side issue. A more pressing question is: Why were they given access to highly sensitive government information? Ordinarily, that requires a security clearance, awarded only after a background check that peruses ties to foreign countries, associations with unsavory characters, and vulnerability to blackmail.

These characters could not possibly have qualified. Never mind access; it’s hard to fathom how they retained their jobs. The Daily Caller has also discovered that the family, which controlled several properties, was involved in various suspicious mortgage transfers. Abid Awan, while working “full-time” in Congress, ran a curious auto-retail business called “Cars International A” (yes, CIA), through which he was accused of stealing money and merchandise. In 2012, he discharged debts in bankruptcy (while scheming to keep his real-estate holdings). Congressional Democrats hired Abid despite his drunk-driving conviction a month before he started at the House, and they retained him despite his public-drunkenness arrest a month after. Beyond that, he and Imran both committed sundry vehicular offenses. In civil lawsuits, they are accused of life-insurance fraud.

Democrats now say that any access to sensitive information was “unauthorized.” But how hard could it have been to get “unauthorized” access when House Intelligence Committee Dems wanted their staffers to have unbounded access? In 2016, they wrote a letter to an appropriations subcommittee seeking funding so their staffers could obtain “Top Secret — Sensitive Compartmented Information” clearances. TS/SCI is the highest-level security classification. Awan family members were working for a number of the letter’s signatories.

Democratic members, of course, would not make such a request without coordination with leadership. Did I mention that the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee to whom the letter was addressed was Debbie Wasserman Schultz?

Why has the investigation taken so long? Why so little enforcement action until this week? Why, most of all, were Wasserman Schultz and her fellow Democrats so indulgent of the Awans?

The probe began in late 2016. In short order, the Awans clearly knew they were hot numbers. They started arranging the fraudulent credit-union loan in December, and the $283,000 wire transfer occurred on January 18. In early February, House security services informed representatives that the Awans were suspects in a criminal investigation. At some point, investigators found stolen equipment stashed in the Rayburn House Office Building, including a laptop that appears to belong to Wasserman Schultz and that Imran was using. Although the Awans were banned from the Capitol computer network, not only did Wasserman Schultz keep Imran on staff for several additional months, but Meeks retained Alvi until February 28 — five days before she skedaddled to Lahore.

Strange thing about that: On March 5, the FBI (along with the Capitol Police) got to Dulles Airport in time to stop Alvi before she embarked. It was discovered that she was carrying $12,400 in cash. As I pointed out this week, it is a felony to export more than $10,000 in currency from the U.S. without filing a currency transportation report. It seems certain that Alvi did not file one: In connection with her husband’s arrest this week, the FBI submitted to the court a complaint affidavit that describes Alvi’s flight but makes no mention of a currency transportation report. Yet far from making an arrest, agents permitted her to board the plane and leave the country, notwithstanding their stated belief that she has no intention of returning.

Many congressional staffers are convinced that they’d long ago have been in handcuffs if they pulled what the Awans are suspected of. Nevertheless, no arrests were made when the scandal became public in February. For months, Imran has been strolling around the Capitol. In the interim, Wasserman Schultz has been battling investigators: demanding the return of her laptop, invoking a constitutional privilege (under the speech-and-debate clause) to impede agents from searching it, and threatening the Capitol Police with “consequences” if they don’t relent. Only last week, according to Fox News, did she finally signal willingness to drop objections to a scan of the laptop by federal investigators. Her stridency in obstructing the investigation has been jarring.

As evidence has mounted, the scores of Democrats for whom the Awans worked have expressed no alarm. Instead, we’ve heard slanderous suspicions that the investigation is a product of — all together now — “Islamophobia.” But Samina Gilani, the Awan brothers’ stepmother, begs to differ. Gilani complained to Virginia police that the Awans secretly bugged her home and then used the recordings to blackmail her. She averred in court documents that she was pressured to surrender cash she had stored in Pakistan. Imran claimed to be “very powerful” — so powerful he could order her family members kidnapped.

We don’t know if these allegations are true, but they are disturbing. The Awans have had the opportunity to acquire communications and other information that could prove embarrassing, or worse, especially for the pols who hired them. Did the swindling staffers compromise members of Congress? Does blackmail explain why were they able to go unscathed for so long?

And as for that sensitive information, did the Awans send American secrets, along with those hundreds of thousands of American dollars, to Pakistan?

This is no run-of-the-mill bank-fraud case.

Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS.

Photo: Dulles International Airport (Joe Ravi CC-BY-SA 3.0 / Creative Commons)

The American Spectator, by Scott McKay July 28, 2017:

From a press release that hit on Thursday…

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Judiciary Committee Republicans today sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate unaddressed matters, some connected to the 2016 election and others, including many actions taken by Obama Administration officials like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter follows yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee approval of H. Res. 446, as amended, to request documents pertaining to the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary Clinton.

In their letter, the Judiciary Committee members express concern that the directive given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller is narrow in scope and many concerns arising out of the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath are not being investigated. The members call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate grave concerns such as former Attorney General Lynch’s directive to former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the investigation into former Secretary Clinton; the FBI and Justice Department’s investigative decisions related to the Clinton email investigation, including the immunity deals given to potential co-conspirators; selected leaks of classified information that unmasked U.S. persons incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community; and the FBI’s reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, among many others issues.

If you’re sick and tired of the never-ending “Trump And The Russians” scandal, which for all its hype has produced scant little actual evidence of anything other than desultory cooperation on the part of the president’s camp with an investigation it quite reasonably believes is a kangaroo court, this letter from Goodlatte’s committee might just be what the doctor ordered.

Because as Washington scandals go, Trump And The Russians doesn’t even make it out of Double-A ball. What Goodlatte and the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee want is a special counsel to take us up to the Triple-A or major league scandal level, because there are opportunities for playing time available.

The unmasking issue still has a lot of undiscovered meat on its bones; we’ve already seen a little evidence of that. The Lynch-Comey-Phoenix Airport nexus deserves a lot more scrutiny than it’s received, as do those immunity grants. And the leaks without a doubt deserve a full investigation, and some smug SOB’s from the Deep State surely deserve lengthy prison terms.

But the Fusion GPS business — and the long-simmering and now-burgeoning Awan brothers scandal — are monsters hiding in D.C.’s closet. Here’s to both those scandals continuing to crackle and spark over the next several months, on the way to full explosions the legacy media can no longer contain.

Readers of this column already have an understanding of the Awan brothers scandal, as this space covered a substantial amount of the background of it back in February when things first started happening. Click here to see that background; we’ll give a very short summary of it now.

The central figure in this scandal is a Pakistani national named Imran Awan, who appears to be connected in some way to his country’s intelligence service. Awan is an IT professional who was hired in 2004 to handle computer equipment for Florida Democrat congressman Robert Wexler, and he then picked up a job as a shared staffer to work for Wexler’s colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Awan rode along with Wasserman Schultz as she ascended to the top of the Democratic Party structure, and soon not only was his boss the chair of the Democratic National Committee but Awan’s relationship with her led to his building a client list of some 80 Democrat House members who were using either Imran or other members of his family (a pair of brothers, one of their wives, his own wife) in a sizable little empire he’d built.

And in the meantime, the Awan family was engaging in a pattern of financial activities that looked a whole lot like a mafia operation — questionable real estate deals, bank fraud, kidnapping and extortion, a used-car dealership that might well have been a front for moving stolen cars to Pakistan for sale, and so on. Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Monday as he tried to flee the country while the FBI and Capitol Hill Police were closing in on a bank fraud indictment. In January he had wired some $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to two individuals in Pakistan; he was trying to board a flight to Lahore when he had the cuffs put on him.

But the real juice with the Awans isn’t the bank fraud or the possible stolen cars. The real scandal here is the stolen computers — and the stolen information. It’s alleged that the Awans illegally downloaded documents from their clients, some of whom were on the House Intelligence Committee and other sensitive committees, and even walked off with congressional computers. The FBI, in fact, seized a number of CPU’s and hard drives found at a house owned by Imran that he was renting to a military couple after the tenants had found the equipment partially destroyed in the garage and called the authorities. We don’t know what was on those hard drives.

There are even allegations the Awans were blackmailing their clients with information they’d found in their e-mails. Your imagination can likely conjure up all kinds of entertaining scenarios around that theme.

But the piece de resistance with the Awan brothers scandal is the revelation that Imran Awan, with his foreign intelligence connections, his criminal appearance and his persistent financial problems despite apparently not lacking in the ability to make a buck, had the password to Wasserman Schultz’ iPad from which she answered her e-mail… as DNC chair.

Forget about the Russians and their supposed hacking of the DNC e-mails. If you’re really curious about who got to that information and would have been in a position to shop it to the highest bidder, Imran Awan is the most likely culprit in the room.

Things are moving very quickly on this case, and it’s somewhat telling that Awan was released on bond after being caught trying to flee the country. He has a tracking bracelet on his ankle, but what makes more sense is that he may have turned states’ evidence in exchange for being let out of jail. Awan’s attorney is former Bill Clinton go-fer Chris Gowen, and the lawyer’s statement after he’d been arrested reads like a press release from a campaign operative rather than a criminal attorney; bizarrely so, one might say. It might be that Awan is rolling on Wasserman Schultz and the Clintons have decided to hang her out to dry in order to insulate themselves from whatever blowback the DNC e-mails might generate for them.

Or maybe that isn’t possible anymore. Former Washington police detective Rod Wheeler, who you’ve probably seen on Fox News from time to time and who most recently was in the news as having done some private snooping in the Seth Rich case, has intimated there is a connection between that case and that of the Awan brothers. We’re not going to try to connect those dots without more information, but one’s imagination might run riot with those.

Meanwhile, Republicans in both the House and the Senate are exceptionally curious about Fusion GPS, and with good reason. In case you’re not familiar with this outfit, it’s the “opposition research and strategic communications” firm co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson which played a significant role in the 2016 election. It was Fusion GPS which commissioned the infamous and debunked “pee pee dossier,” written by former British spy Christopher Steele, sourced largely from Steele’s Russian contacts and containing a mountain of scurrilous and implausible allegations about Donald Trump’s misbehaviors. Fusion GPS was initially contracted by anti-Trump Republican donors, but after Trump got the GOP nomination it was Democrats paying the freight for their work product… and before it was over it looks like James Comey’s FBI, amazingly, was picking up the tab.

That last part is of special interest to Sen. Charles Grassley and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has made a priority out of Fusion GPS, and had called Simpson to testify. He did, but only in private, and only after threatening to take the Fifth. That’s his right, but what does an oppo researcher need the Fifth Amendment for?

But there’s more with Fusion GPS. On Wednesday Tucker Carlson had as a guest on his show one Thor Halvorssen, a Venezuelan native of Norwegian descent who runs a watchdog outfit called the Human Rights Foundation, and Halvorssen told a harrowing story of Fusion GPS attempting to destroy his life with a smear campaign because he’d blown the whistle on a crooked contract one of Fusion’s clients had with the Venezuelan government to build power plants. That story also got told in a letter Halvorssen sent to Grassley’s committee. And then there is Fusion’s other client, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the “Russian lawyer” whose meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort has been bandied about as some sort of smoking gun proving collusion with the Russians. It turns out that Veselnitskaya had hired Fusion to help her push to overturn the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions bill targeting crooked Russian oligarchs and human rights abusers. In none of these cases did Fusion bother to register under FARA, the Foreign Agent Registry Act, which would put them on the wrong side of the law.

Grassley’s committee, and Goodlatte’s committee, would like to know if this entire Russian business was a setup cooked-up by Fusion’s dirty-tricks shop with the collusion of a few actors in the Obama administration. It’s hard to blame them.

There’s a lot of debate about Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra these days, but nobody is really denying the swamp exists. And nobody can — not with Fusion GPS and the Awan brothers skulking around in the muck.