Washington, DC - Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz used her position on a special committee, as well as three minutes of a legislative hearing, to threaten Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa.
According to The Daily Caller, she told Chief Vederosa that there would be "consequences" if a piece of evidence, a laptop used by one of her staff members in an ongoing criminal investigation against him, was not returned to her.
She said that the laptop belongs to her, and it might. However, with any criminal investigation, when evidence is seized it isn't returned until the case is finished and it is released by the DA's Office.
Capitol police and 'outside agencies' are investigating a case involving one of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's staff members, Imran Awan, who is suspected of "massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite".
Awan, who is Pakistani, has been in charge of technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005. He was banned from the House network in February due to suspicion of 'data breaches and theft.'
A confidential federal employee told The Daily Caller that as police closed in on Awan and his brothers, they discovered a laptop used by Awan hidden in an unused crevice of the Rayburn House Office Building. Wasserman-Schultz's office is in Longworth House Building, which is a separate building. The laptop was seized when it was found because it was relevant to the criminal investigation.
The investigation is focused on "examining members' data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get four members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls." They were paid a total of $4 million since 2010.
What's more concerning about Awan? There's no paper trail to show how many permissions he was asking for, and he and other staffers in the criminal investigation had full access to members “correspondence, emails, confidential files." He also ran technology for other House Democrats.
House members who Awan worked for have largely done nothing in response to the seeming serious nature of the investigation. At least, that was the case until Wasserman-Schultz took action to apparently try to minimize the damage or protecting Awan or both.
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is one of eight members of the Committee on Appropriations’ Legislative Branch subcommittee, and is in charge of the budget of the police force that is investigating her staffer.
On Thursday, May 18, a hearing on the Capitol Police's annual budget was in progress when she used three minutes to publicly threaten Chief Vederosa. She said that she wanted the laptop back, and that her "understanding is the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members’ equipment when the Member is not under investigation."
In response, Chief Vederosa said "We can’t return the equipment." Wasserman-Schultz then said, "I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences." She didn't specify what the consequences were.
She also said, "If a Member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?” In response, the police chief said that it is important to an "ongoing investigation."
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has refused to talk further about her staff member, the laptop, or the implied threat.