Former DNC chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., appears to have planned to continue paying IT aide Imran Awan even after he planned to flee to Pakistan.
This twist is the latest development in an astonishing tale of Wasserman Schultz's continued negligence involving her former IT aide, who was known to have breached sensitive House Intelligence Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee servers, as well as having unfettered access to the computers, files, and emails belonging to dozens of members of Congress.
Overnight, it was reported that Awan "frantically" raced to liquidate his U.S. assets and to send the proceeds to Pakistan, where his wife is believed to have also fled. Both he and his wife – who, unlike Awan, is not in captivity and is free to use a computer, presumably – were liquidating properties even on the day of his arrest.
The liquidation involved, but is not limited to, the transfer of nearly $2 million in real estate assets within the family. In at least one of those transactions, a U.S. bank was funding nearly the entire sale.
When it comes to financial matters, there is one man who can stop the transfer of illicit funds to foreign countries: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
When nefarious financial transactions appear around the globe, it is the tall, dark Mnuchin who emerges from the shadows of the Treasury building like the Batman of the financial world, fighting bad guys and (using a tactic from his nemesis, Mr. Freeze), freezing the bad guys' assets.
On Monday, Mnuchin announced sanctions against Venezuela for their "sham" elections last weekend. Part of those sanctions? Freezing the assets of President Nicholas Maduro. In a joint press conference with National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster yesterday, Mnuchin also banned anyone in the U.S. from dealing with Maduro financially.
In late June, Mnuchin announced sternly from the White House podium that he was also cutting off companies that were helping to fund North Korea's nuclear program. That included sanctions against the Chinese Bank of Dandong, another Chinese company and two Chinese citizens.
"We will follow the money, and we will cut off the money," Mnuchin said at the time.
Because the case of Wasserman Schultz's IT aide involves so much Congressional property, computer files, email records, and cash salaries that were paid for by U.S. taxpayers, it is right for Mnuchin to step in and to at least hit the pause button on the transfer of U.S. assets until law enforcement can determine the extent of the damage from the Awan brothers.
Ultimately, Wasserman Schultz must answer to law enforcement and to her colleagues' questions regarding why she continued to employ individuals after it was known they breached IT mainframes holding sensitive intelligence information, and why on earth she was planning to continue to pay the foreign-born Imran Awan who still in her employ when he was arrested last Tuesday.
Meantime, actions can and should be taken today to ensure that Awan doesn't abscond with U.S. funds, real estate he may have paid for while potentially cheating taxpayers out of $4 million in salary, and any other assets he may have amassed while potentially committing high crimes on the public payroll.
In addition, a comprehensive investigation of multiple years of incoming and outgoing funds must be traced in order to determine whether the actions of the Awan brothers were part of a wider scheme to commit foreign-funded espionage.
Secretary Mnuchin, the bat signal is flashing. We hope you will answer the call.
Jennifer Kerns (@JenKernsUSA) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. A GOP communications strategist, she served as spokeswoman for the California Republican Party, recalls in Colorado, and California's Prop. 8. Previously, she served as a writer for the 2016 U.S. presidential debates for FOX News.
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