The plea agreement included an unusual passage that described the scope of the investigation and cleared Imran Awan of a litany of conspiracy theories promulgated on internet blogs, picked up by right-leaning news sites and fanned by President Donald Trump on Twitter.
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors concluded an 18-month investigation into a former congressional technology staffer Tuesday by publicly debunking allegations — promoted by conservative media and President Donald Trump — suggesting he was a Pakistani operative who stole government secrets with cover from House Democrats.
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Imran Awan pleaded guilty to a relatively minor offense unrelated to his work on Capitol Hill: making a false statement on a bank-loan application. U.S. prosecutors said they would not recommend jail time.
But the agreement included an unusual passage that described the scope of the investigation and cleared Awan, 38, of a litany of conspiracy theories promulgated on internet blogs, picked up by right-leaning news sites and fanned by Trump on Twitter.
“The Government has uncovered no evidence that your client violated federal law with respect to the House computer systems,” including stealing gear or illegally accessing or transferring information, including sensitive or classified information, prosecutors wrote in an 11-page plea agreement dated and signed Tuesday.
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Awan and four of his associates, including relatives, worked as IT specialists for dozens of Democratic lawmakers until they were banned from the computer network in February 2017 for allegedly violating House security rules. The ensuing investigation attracted aggressive coverage by conservative media outlets and prompted calls from Trump to prosecute Awan.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia did not mention Trump or any media publications by name in the agreement. But it included an exhaustive list of “public allegations” that prosecutors investigated and shot down, including that investigators took custody of the House Democratic server.
The office that conducted the investigation is led by Trump-nominated U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu. Awan was released from electronic monitoring and will be free, pending his sentencing Aug. 21, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered after accepting Awan’s plea.
As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a bank-fraud charge against Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi. Awan agreed to plead guilty to a felony related to an application for a home equity line of credit. He told a bank that the home was his wife’s primary residence; it was a rental property. The loan was fully repaid.
Awan’s attorney, Christopher Gowen, called the case a “political prosecution” and a “tremendous waste of law-enforcement time and resources.” Awan and his associates were each assigned to work for individual lawmakers, but they shared job duties and login information for multiple servers, a practice prohibited under House rules.
Awan said before Tuesday’s hearing that he came to the United States as a teen, put himself through college, became a U.S. citizen, and built a career on Capitol Hill; what he portrayed as the fulfillment of a dream. “This has cost me my reputation, my livelihood, my family,” he said. “I can’t believe this.”
He added, “The president used me to advance his political agenda.”