January 14, 2020
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that a federal court yesterday ordered a snap hearing after the Justice Department submitted information under seal on Friday following the court’s demand for an explanation of why no records have been produced in the ongoing legal battle for documents about the Congressional Democrat IT (information technology) scandal involving the Awan brothers. The hearing is set for tomorrow, January 15, at 10 am.
In November 2018, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI over two FOIA requests for records related to the Awan brothers (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-02563)).
In August 2019, the Justice Department told the court that it would begin producing records by November 5, 2019. After producing no records, on November 13, 2019, the agency told Judicial Watch that it was having “technical difficulties,” and in a recent email claimed that “difficulties with the production remain.”
In a joint status report filed on December 5, 2019, Judicial Watch reported to the court that the DOJ claimed in a phone call that it was now unable to produce any records to either of the FOIA requests “because the agency was waiting for some unspecified action by Judge [Tanya S.] Chutkan in some other matter so as to avoid having to produce records in this case.” In that same report the DOJ told the court that Judge Chutkan is “presiding over a related sealed criminal matter” that prohibits the government from releasing the requested FOIA information.
In a hearing last month, U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta expressed frustration and ordered the Justice Department to explain its failure to produce records by January 10 and to provide Judicial Watch some details about the delay. Instead, the Justice Department made its filing under seal and has yet to provide Judicial Watch with any details about its failure to produce records as promised to the court.
“The cover-up of the Awan Brothers Democratic IT scandal shows the FBI and DOJ’s penchant for dishonesty isn’t just limited to FISA abuse,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The DOJ’s handling of the Awan Brothers case has long been an issue of concern and now we are expected believe some secret investigation prevents the public from knowing the full truth about this scandal. We are skeptical.”
Imran Awan and his family were banned from the House computer network in February 2017 after the House’s top law enforcement officer wrote that Imran was “an ongoing and serious risk to the House of Representatives, possibly threatening the integrity of our information systems,” and that a server containing evidence had gone “missing.” The inspector general said server logs showed “unauthorized access” and procurement records were falsified.
Imran Awan was Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-FL) top information technology aide. Most lawmakers fired Awan in February, but Wasserman Schultz kept him on until he was arrested in July 2017, trying to board a flight for Pakistan.
In July 2018, Imran Awan was given a plea deal, and pled guilty to federal bank fraud but prosecutors found no evidence that Awan “violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems.”
The Awan brothers reportedly “were not given background checks before being given access to highly sensitive government information and no explanations have been given as to why.” Additionally, “If they would have run this background check it would have found out not only multiple criminal convictions, but $1 million bankruptcy, a dozen lawsuits … it would have found a whole host of major red flags and the Democrats didn’t do any of those checks.”
The status hearing is before Judge Amit P. Mehta:
Date: Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m. ET
Location: Courtroom 10
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
333 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001