Donald Trump and right wing media have been pushing a conspiracy theory that a former aide to Debbie Wasserman Schultz was actually a foreign spy stealing government secrets from a House Democratic server which they refused to hand over to the FBI. But prosecutors just blew Trump’s lies out of the water.
On Tuesday NBC News reported,
“Federal prosecutors on Tuesday publicly debunked conspiracy theories pushed by President Donald Trump and right-wing media that a former Democratic aide charged with bank fraud was actually a foreign spy trying to steal government secrets.
In a plea deal with Imran Awan, who worked as an information technology aide for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and other Democratic lawmakers, prosecutors said they conducted “a thorough investigation” into claims that Awan stole information from government servers on behalf of another country while working for House Democrats, but reported that they found no evidence to support the conspiracy theories.”
“The Government agrees that the public allegations that (Awan) stole U.S. House of Representatives equipment and engaged in unauthorized or illegal conduct involving House computer systems do not form the basis of any conduct relevant to the determination of the sentence in this case.”
David Damron, a spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, said in a statement on Tuesday,
“We rely on our justice system to produce a fair result, after a considered, objective review. That role is even more important at a time when Donald Trump and his allies spread dangerous distortions with the intent of falsely smearing his political opponents.”
The conspiracy theories about Awan began on online forums and then quickly spread to right wing media. Then they gained even more traction when Trump tweeted about it twice earlier this year.
In April, Trump tweeted,
“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.”
Then, in June, he tweeted about it again.
“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!”
Officials say that Awan and his wife defrauded the Congressional Federal Credit Union for $165,000 when they lied on a home equity loan application. Last year Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport when he tried to fly to Lahore, Pakistan.
Awan pleaded guilty to lying on the home equity loan application and will likely spend less than six months in jail. His wife left the country last year.
According to Awan’s plea agreement, prosecutors investigated Trump’s conspiracy theories by seizing the server used by the House Democratic caucus. Prosecutors also took other computers and electronic devices for forensic analysis. And they interviewed around 40 people in the probe.
“The Government has uncovered no evidence that your client violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems,” says the plea agreement, addressed to Awan’s lawyer. “Particularly, the Government has found no evidence that your client illegally removed House data from the House network or from House Members’ offices, stole the House Democratic Caucus Server, stole or destroyed House information technology equipment, or improperly accessed or transferred government information, including classified or sensitive information.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Awan’s lawyer, Chris Gowen, blasted Trump and the right wing media who pushed these bogus conspiracy theories about his client.
“This case illustrates the real and tragic human consequences of a right-wing media operation that today goes far beyond mere political opportunism,” Gowen said. “There has never been any missing server, smashed hard drives, blackmailed members of Congress, or breach of classified information.”
He added, “Like so many irresponsible, misleading, or simply untrue tweets from the President, this allegation displayed a complete lack of respect for law enforcement. The President obviously knew from the beginning of this investigation that law enforcement was in possession of the House Democratic Server.”