Imran Awan, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s IT guy, apparently routed data from House Democrats to an unspecified secret server. The move prompted Capitol Police to ban Awan from the House network.
Law enforcement grew increasingly suspicious and eventually requested a copy of server data earlier this year. What Awan provided them was a falsified image (copy) of the data, specifically designed to hide the numerous violations. When they discovered this, they banned him from the House network.
The secret server was connected to the House Democratic Caucus, an organization chaired by then-Rep. Xavier Becerra. Police informed Becerra that the server was the subject of an investigation and requested a copy of it. Authorities considered the false image they received to be interference in a criminal investigation, the senior official said.
Data was also backed up to Dropbox in huge quantities, the official said. Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network.
Awan had access to all emails and office computer files of 45 members of Congress who are listed below. Fear among members that Awan could release embarrassing information if they cooperated with prosecutors could explain why the Democrats have refused to acknowledge the cybersecurity breach publicly or criticize the suspects.
Capitol Police considered the image a sign that the Awans knew exactly what they were doing and were going to great lengths to try to cover it up, the senior official said. The House Sergeant-at-Arms banned them from the network as a result.
Wasserman Schultz has acknowledged that chiefs of staff were informed that the Awans were under investigation for what she characterized as “data transfer violations.” She refused to fire Awan even after he was banned from touching official computers, and she used a May 17, 2017, budget hearing with the House Chief Administrative Officer to attack authorities for not stopping her from breaking the Dropbox rule.
“I am more than happy to admit that I use Dropbox. I have used it for years and years and years. It is not blocked. I am fully able to use it,” she said. Administrators told her they had clearly communicated the rules to IT aides, but instead of faulting Awan for not following them, Wasserman Schultz lashed out at the House for “just lobbing e-mail into a tech person’s inbox.”
The senior official said the Awans’ enterprise-scale use of Dropbox was not the casual use of a popular consumer application, but the funneling of huge quantities of data offsite where it could not be taken back by House authorities.