Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) told the Sun Sentinel Thursday that she “did the right thing” by not firing her IT staffer Imran Awan after being told last year that he was under investigation for procurement theft and banned from access to the House IT network.
Awan was finally fired by Wasserman Schultz last week after being arrested on bank fraud charges while attempting to leave the country for Pakistan. He is also suspected of exposing House information online.
“I believe that I did the right thing, and I would do it again,” Wasserman Schultz said. “There are times when you can’t be afraid to stand alone, and you have to stand up for what’s right.
“It would have been easier for me to just fire him,” she added.
“I had grave concerns about his due process rights being violated,” she explained of her decision. “When their investigation was reviewed with me, I was presented with no evidence of anything that they were being investigated for. And so that, in me, gave me great concern that his due process rights were being violated. That there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns that I had.”
She said that her office developed a position for him that “would allow him to continue to do work … until such time as there were other charges brought or we had some evidence that there was something that was produced that warranted further action.”
“He didn’t have access to the network, but he was able to give us guidance and advice and troubleshoot on a wide variety of other technological issues,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz also pushed back on reports that he was fleeing to Pakistan.
“He is from Pakistan. … He’s an American, a naturalized American citizen. His children are natural born citizens. His wife is a naturalized American citizen. And I mean when you’re trying to flee, you don’t fill out a form with your employer and go on unpaid leave,” she argued.
Wasserman Schultz also claimed that the case is getting attention from conservative media outlets because they’re trying to distract from the investigation into President Trump’s campaign colluding with Russia.
“Any opportunity they can to pull people’s eyes and ears away from that they take,” she said.