About a month ago, Donald Trump used Twitter to issue a curious charge: “Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat 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!”
At face value, this looked an awful lot like a sitting president abusing his office and directing federal law enforcement to go after his political rivals. But just below the surface, there was another problem: very few people had any idea who or what Trump was talking about.
Who’s Awan? There’s a “Democrat I.T. scandal”? Since when?
This week, the story came into focus – and Trump’s odd claims unraveled.
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday publicly debunked conspiracy theories pushed by President Donald Trump and right-wing media that a former Democratic aide charged with bank fraud was actually a foreign spy trying to steal government secrets.
In a plea deal with Imran Awan, who worked as an information technology aide for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and other Democratic lawmakers, prosecutors said they had conducted “a thorough investigation” into claims that Awan stole information from government servers on behalf of another country while working for House Democrats, but reported that they found no evidence to support the conspiracy theories.
Trump’s conspiracy theories are often difficult to take seriously, but this one was especially silly.
In reality, Imran Awan did do something wrong: he submitted false information while seeking a home-equity loan. He did so because he wanted to quickly transfer money to his ailing father in Pakistan.
Awan was caught, charged, and he ultimately pleaded guilty. That’s it. That’s the story.
Or more accurately, that should’ve been the story.
Conservative media and Donald Trump decided that Imran Awan wasn’t just some I.T. guy who improperly sought a home-equity loan; he was actually the “key” to uncovering widespread “corruption,” including developments related to the Russia scandal.
And as a result of this bizarre conspiracy theory, some random guy who committed some random crime became a target of the president of the United States.
Justice Department officials took the time to carefully examine each of the conspiracy theories surrounding Awan, and they determined that there’s no evidence to substantiate any of them. The president’s claims were simply ridiculous.
I’ll look forward to Trump’s apology. That’s on the way, right?