A former House staffer who has been the subject of several tweets by President Donald Trump has struck a plea deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to making a false statement on a bank loan application during a court appearance in Washington, DC, federal court Tuesday morning.
Trump tweeted last month that the Justice Department should not let Imran Awan “off the hook.” Awan worked for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, a former Democratic National Committee chair, and other House Democrats as an IT specialist.
The government also acknowledged Tuesday there is no basis to claims that Awan stole information from the servers, or the servers themselves. The plea deal says: “The Government has uncovered no evidence that your client violated federal law with respect to the House computer system.”
Prosecutors revealed that government investigators had interviewed 40 witnesses in connection with those allegations, had taken custody of the House Democratic caucus server and subsequently “found no evidence (Awan) illegally removed House data from the House network or from House Members’ offices … or improperly accessed or transferred government information, including classified or sensitive information.”
While Awan’s year-long court case revolved solely around bank fraud charges pertaining to an application for a home equity loan, conspiracy theorists have speculated wildly about the case. Blogs and conservative websites have circulated allegations that Awan was involved in the hack of the DNC computer systems in the run-up to the 2016 election and that he had stolen the Democrats’ server and distributed sensitive information to the Pakistani government.
Trump has added fuel to those conspiracy theories. During an interview with The New York Times last December, the President asked: “Whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the DNC? … With the two servers that they broke up into a million pieces?”
In April, the President again referred to Awan on Twitter: “Just heard the Campaign was sued by the Obstructionist Democrats. This can be good news in that we will now counter for the DNC Server that they refused to give to the FBI, the Debbie Wasserman Schultz Servers and Documents held by the Pakistani mystery man and Clinton Emails.”
Awan’s attorney called out the President’s statements and tweets in a statement: “My client is not a ‘spy,’ nor part of a ‘spy ring.’ There has never been any missing server, smashed hard drives, blackmailed members of Congress, or breach of classified information. This was all made up, for purposes of clickbait, Fox News stories, and political opportunism. And yes, this repugnant behavior went straight to the top, just weeks ago, the President of the United States tweeted again alleging that Imran was responsible for a missing Democratic Party server. Like so many irresponsible, misleading or simply untrue tweets from the President, this allegation displayed a complete lack of respect for law enforcement.”
Judge Tanya Chutkan will sentence Awan on August 21.
Awan was arrested last July as he attempted to board a flight for Pakistan, according to the legal documents.