Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) may soon be facing impeachment as the corruption scandal swirling around her IT staffers unfolds with each new development being more bizarre – and more incriminating than the last.
On Monday, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed an ethics complaint with Congress against Wasserman Schultz stemming from a host of missteps and flagrant ethical violations, not the least of which was her continued employment of Pakistani IT staffer Imran Awan long after his accesses to all Congressional systems had been terminated, AFF reports.
After word broke in February that Capitol Police were investigating the group and had blocked their access to the House computer system, most Democratic lawmakers fired the staffers.
Except for Wasserman Schultz who defended Awan, with whom she reportedly has a personal friendship, and refused to fire him.
After Awan’s arrest on Tuesday, a spokesman for the congresswoman finally announced she had fired Awan.
More than 20 House members had paid Awan and his three brothers, and two wives $4 million since 2010 for mostly no-show positions on their payrolls.
The following from AFF:
FACT’s executive director, Matthew Whitaker states:
“There is something quite amiss as to why Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz continued to use taxpayer funds to employ former technology staff member, Imran Awan, even months after he was barred from accessing the House’s computer systems and a number of her colleagues severed ties with Awan.
Since Awan’s arrest last week, Wasserman Schultz has been evasive and unable to answer even basic questions about the nature of Awan’s employment with her office. This only further confirms the urgency of an investigation into her unethical and illegal actions.”
FACTS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. Whitaker is a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.
The level to which Wasserman Schultz was willing to go to protect Awan has many baffled and they fear just how much damage has been done due to her inexplicable behavior.
In February 2017, Politico reported that five US House employees were under criminal investigation for allegations they “stole equipment from more than 20 member offices” and “committed serious, potentially illegal, violations of House IT policies.”
In June 2017, a computer was retained as evidence as part of the ongoing investigations into Awan’s misdeeds and felonious activities, yet Wasserman-Schultz felt moved to threaten the chief of the US Capitol Police with “consequences” for not returning the laptop on the record and before cameras during a Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing on the Capitol Police Department’s budget.
At best, this threat to Capitol Police would be considered highly inappropriate. More likely it is a very clear cut case of obstruction of justice.
“My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation,” said the former DNC chair in the annual police budget hearing.
“We can’t return the equipment,” replied Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa.
“I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences,” said Wasserman Schultz.
Also in June 2017, and even more bizarre, Wasserman Schultz chose to contact the law offices handling the ongoing class-action lawsuit filed against the Democratic National Committee and against Wasserman Schultz herself in her capacity as the former chair due to her work in undermining Bernie Sanders as a viable Democratic candidate in the 2016 Presidential election in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Documents filed with the court in the matter state that the office received a call that originated at Wasserman Schultz office and the person speaking sounded as though they were using a voice changer.
According to attorney Elizabeth Lee Beck:
“My secretary stated that it sounded like the caller was using a voice changer because the voice sounded robotic and genderless. The caller concluded with ‘Okey dokey,’ after my secretary gave the caller public information about the case.”
After hanging up, a simple Google search of the phone number ‘305-936-5724’ was performed. It shows that the phone number belonged to the office for US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a key member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is demanding that lawmakers to assess the damage these IT vulnerabilities may have caused to sensitive information. DeSantis serves as the chairman of the oversight panel’s subcommittee on national security and a member of its subcommittee on government operations.
Some lawmakers are calling to simply wait until the 2018 elections and let the American public do as they will in the voting booth. Yet, others are demanding answers and have stated impeachment may be a difficult task, but not impossible. Congress has traditionally almost never impeached one of its own. It has only happened once, to a US senator, in 1797.
The power of impeaching members is given to Congress by the Constitution in Article I, Section 2 –
“The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”
In Article II, Section 4, the Constitution says:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
The evidence starting to surface around Hillary Clinton and those that worked with her is mounting at an alarming rate.
The question is, at what point does a case like this, where the details speak so resoundingly of massive corruption, does the cover-up end and an investigation expose what really took place.