Life is coming at us fast. It seems remarkable, on the face of it, that Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) offered this information in general speech time on the House floor on 5 June 2018, the day federal prosecutors reportedly obtained a seventh continuance from the D.C. federal court in the Imran Awan case – but then, hours later, were said to have wrapped up a plea deal with Awan and his wife Hina Alvi.
At this point, it’s hard to decide what to make of it. Based on all the reporting to date, let’s say it doesn’t sound good. (Note: an alternative reading might be that the FBI is working on something so big that an appearance must be maintained that the Bureau is unalerted and unaware. That seems a bit far-fetched, but in 2018, who would argue that it’s impossible? I continue to find it very unlikely that Jeff Sessions has actually gone brain-dead.)
Taking things at face value, however: an Awan plea deal would be one thing, if all of the nefarious activities with which the Awans have been associated were being looked into.
But Gohmert states categorically that they are not being looked into. In fact, what he said on the evening of 5 June is that the FBI not only isn’t looking into them, but doesn’t want to hear about them.
This doesn’t make sense as a straightforward law enforcement issue. Even if the FBI had some legitimate reason for fending off information about the various kinds of fraud, theft, national security breaches, and other things the Awans have been accused of, we would presume that representatives in Congress would be clued in as to why the FBI was handling things that way. Instead of Gohmert presenting the case he just made on the floor of the House, he would be keeping his counsel, knowing that there was some longer game being played.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case here. These are troubling developments. On the face of it, they look like they are going the wrong way.
I emphasize that we can only see from the outside. One thing has become clear over the last couple of years: a lot of things are happening that we have had no idea about, and making quick assumptions isn’t wise.
But it’s telling, that Louie Gohmert doesn’t know what’s going on either. I am frankly getting tired of trying to figure out what our own government is doing, from clues dribbled out little by little.
In this case, I see no reason why the Trump administration would want to silence or inhibit an investigation of the Awans. Nothing from the Awan saga will be about Trump. It goes back years; it involves Democrats in Congress (no Republicans are implicated at all); and until now, there didn’t seem to be indications that the processes of the FBI or DOJ were being subverted in regard to it.
But maybe they are.
At any rate, what I want to do in this post is bring you up to speed on what Gohmert said on Tuesday.
Hat tip: Luke Rosiak via Twitter:
— Luke Rosiak (@lukerosiak) June 6, 2018
You can watch his speech starting at about the 1:42:00 mark at the CSPAN video link (top link). The first portion is about the Mueller investigation. If you want to skip to the segment about the Awans, it starts shortly after 1:57:30. The portions I have provided transcripts for below begin right about the 2:00:00 mark.
The meat of the Awan segment is captured in the screen caps of the rough transcript from CSPAN.
The money quotes by Gohmert are the ones I have transcribed for readability. Below is the main passage, which refers to Gohmert’s discussion of the iPad inventory finagling done by the Awans (CSPAN transcript screen caps 1 and 2). The Awans were recording government purchases of iPads at just under $500 apiece, so that the iPads wouldn’t have to be accounted for in inventory. Then they were shipping them off to Pakistan. (This is just one of many things the Awans have been caught doing, according to Luke Rosiak’s sources on Capitol Hill.)
Given everything else we know about the Awans, it’s quite possible this was about more than merely theft or fraud. Moving IT equipment around, even just iPads, could have implications for national security – especially if the iPads were bought on a contract for congressional purchases.
Yet according to Gohmert, the FBI doesn’t want to know:
But the FBI has had opportunities to have those invoices presented to them, and each time they have instructed, don’t bring any of those documents, we don’t want to see any of that, we just want to talk to you.
The problem, in Gohmert’s view, is that the FBI wants to maintain a narrative that the only things the Awans have demonstrably done are the few, relatively minor ones Imran Awan and Hina Alvi have been charged with.
And as I understand, even this week they continued to report, the FBI investigating, that, yeah, we still found no evidence of anything other than this false statement on a loan.
Why? Because they have instructed, we don’t want to see the documents that prove those cases.
They’re readily available for anybody, any federal officer who wants to see them, but they don’t want to see them.
So they can keep reporting to the new U.S. Attorney that there’s no evidence. No evidence, no, there’s just nothing there. They can tell the Attorney General, yeah, we’ve looked into it, there’s nothing there.
Alluding to the work of Luke Rosiak (Daily Caller News Foundation, whose reports we have been carrying at LU), Gohmert points out that the FBI hasn’t even talked to the great majority of witnesses with material information about the Awans:
And yet we hear from the reporter, he continues to talk to the witnesses, and it was 80% of the witnesses that have personal information about the crimes of the cartel, cartel family, whatever you want to call it, have committed …70%, between 70% and 80% of those witnesses have never been interviewed by the FBI.
Again, because resisting new information keeps the narrative tidy.
That way, they can still report to the new U.S. Attorney, the Attorney General, we looked into it. There’s nothing there. There’s no evidence.
Yeah, because you don’t want to look at it. It abounds.
Gohmert reminds us that Awan is being represented by a public defender, at taxpayer expense, while his documented history shows big money transfers to Pakistan and substantial assets listed in a bankruptcy proceeding. Awan borrowed money from a man with connections to Hezbollah, and family connections to Iran – yet the FBI is ignoring that and virtually everything else about the Awan financial history.
Taxpayers are paying for Awan’s lawyer, because he says he’s destitute. Yet he sent $100,000 or more to Pakistan in one transaction.
And we know that he has property listed in his bankruptcy. We know that he got – was in business, took a loan from a guy in Pakistan who has known ties to Hezbollah [the reference here is actually to Ali al-Attar, who lives in the U.S. but has links to Hezbollah in Lebanon].
And they owed him money. And we can’t seem to get the FBI interested in that.
Gohmert points out that this has real implications for the future, if Awan gets a plea deal (as reported on Tuesday).
And then when we hear that Mr. Awan is spreading the word among his friends from Pakistan that “I just got to get this deal done, and work out a plea where I don’t get jail time, and I’m already assured I will be able to work back on the Hill.”
Is it actually possible that Imran Awan, and perhaps other Awans, could be back at work on Capitol Hill after a plea deal? Republicans certainly wouldn’t hire them. But would Democrats?
That we even have to ask that question is evidence that there is something very big wrong here. More to come on this, we can be sure.