- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2018

President Donald Trump on Twitter Thursday urged the Department of Justice not to accept a plea agreement from a former IT aide to congressional Democrats who is being prosecuted in a scheme to fraudulently obtain home equity loans.

Imran Awan, who worked for Democratic lawmakers, including Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, is said to be in talks to strike a plea in agreement in the case.

Mr. Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, are accused of obtaining home equity lines of credit form the Congressional Federal Union by giving false information about two properties and sending the money to individuals in Pakistan — their nation of origin. Both face federal bank fraud and conspiracy charges. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But Mr. Trump alleged that Mr. Awan is trying to make a plea deal to protect Ms. Wasserman Schultz and keep federal investigators from accessing the hacked computer server that handled email from the DNC. Conservatives have claimed the server has evidence that the DNC and the Obama administration’s Justice Department tried to limit the scope of the FBI’s investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s secret email account.

“Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook,” the president tweeted. “The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we say today. They want to make a ‘plea deal’ to hide what is on their Server. Where is the Sever? Really bad!”

A plea agreement hearing for Mr. Awan and Ms. Alvi is scheduled for July 3 before a federal judge in Washington, D.C. A court filing earlier this week did not reveal any details about the possible agreement, but did say “the parties are currently exploring a resolution of this matter.”

Mr. Trump has tweeted about the case in the past. In April, Mr. Trump referred to Mr. Awan as “the Pakistani mystery man” and accused him and Ms. Wasserman Schultz of having the missing Clinton emails. He also mentioned Mr. Awan in an interview in The New York Times saying, “whatever happened to this Pakistani guy who worked with the DNC?”

Federal investigators first looked into Mr. Awan in early 2017 after allegations surfaced that he had stolen computer equipment and accessed sensitive systems. He was fired by most Democrat lawmakers in February, but Ms. Wasserman Schultz kept him on the payroll until he was arrested in July 2017.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz has blamed Republicans for the attention on Mr. Awan, claiming it is an effort to distract from the Russian collusion allegations lodged against the Trump campaign. She blamed “the right-wing media circus fringe” for the scrutiny on Mr. Awan in an August interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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