Question: how do you make a political scandal go away?
Well, first you work out a sweetheart plea agreement that doesn’t even touch on the scandalous part of what took place. Then you announce it in conjunction with a major holiday, preferably one in which most people are outdoors grilling hot dogs and not paying much attention to the news. The Fourth of July is ideal for such a plan, as patriotic Americans who normally would be paying attention to politics are, ironically, the ones most caught up in celebrating with their families.
If you are the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, you sneak out a press release with a generic, blah-vanilla headline such as “Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Making False Statements on Application for Home Equity Loan.”
That took some skill –- one can’t even tell that this headline refers to the resolution of the Imran Awan case. Recall that Awan was the IT aide to Florida Congresswoman and former DNC boss Debbie Wasserman Schultz and about 45 other Democratic members of Congress, including members of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees. Though he’d never been officially vetted for a security clearance, he’d been given essentially unrestricted access to their email and other electronic files. Numerous members of his family were mysteriously on the government payroll, too, also without security clearances or degrees in IT, some pulling down highly questionable salaries. When allegations were raised, his wife went home to Pakistan; he wasn’t quite fast enough and was intercepted while trying to flee the country as well.
Astoundingly, the press release announcing Awan’s plea deal made no mention of Wasserman Schultz or of his IT work for the Democrats.
President Trump must have been consulting his crystal ball about a month ago when he tweeted, “Our Justice Department must not let Awan and Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democratic I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a ‘plea deal’ to hide what is on their server. Where is Server? Really bad!”
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Trump was downright psychic with his reference to a plea –- they gave Awan one heckuva deal, even announcing that they had “uncovered no evidence” that he had “violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems. The deal also specifies that he won’t be charged with any nonviolent crimes he might have committed in Washington prior to the agreement. (I am not kidding.) According to Luke Rosiak at the Daily Caller –- who has really been on top of this story –- this benign conclusion is at odds with that of the findings of an IG appointed by Nancy Pelosi, the House’s top law enforcement official, its sergeant-at-arms, and the statements of multiple Democratic aides. But that doesn’t matter; the allegations have been effectively buried.
Oh, and another thing you do to make a scandal go away is accuse the other side of bigotry. In this case, Awan’s attorney, Christopher G. Gowan –- who happens to be a former aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton –- described the charge against Awan as “clearly a right-wing media-driven prosecution by a United States Attorney’s Office that wants to prosecute people for working while Muslim.” Wasserman Schultz used the same strategy, keeping Awan on the payroll for six months after he’d been banned from the congressional computer system by Capitol police because, as she said, he was “put under scrutiny because of his religious faith.”
It also helps to have a sympathetic judge. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, appointed to the DC District Court by President Obama in 2014, was once a partner in the same firm that represented Huma Abedin in the investigation of Hillary’s email server. She’s been a vocal opponent of Trump’s travel ban and ordered the Trump administration to provide abortions to two illegal immigrants. She postponed Awan’s hearing in U.S. District Court six times.
Well, if you ever wanted to know how to bury a political scandal, now you know how it is done. In case you were one of those patriotic Americans out grilling hot dogs last week and you happened to miss the Awan story, here’s Luke Rosiak’s detailed wrap-up. If you’re like me, it’ll make you steamier than one of those dogs.