WASHINGTON – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (pictured) threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding equipment that she says belongs to her. The property is being held in order to build a criminal case against a Pakistani staffer suspected of massive cybersecurity breaches involving funneling sensitive congressional data offsite, reported The Daily Caller.
The Florida lawmaker sits on a committee that establishes the budget for the police. According to the report, she used her position on the committee to press the chief to relinquish the piece of evidence Thursday. The action could be considered using her authority to attempt to interfere with a criminal investigation.
The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft.
“So if a member says there is equipment that has been lost, and you find it, it would be returned to the member?” Wasserman Schultz asked, implying the equipment should have been returned to her regardless of the investigation because the owner of the equipment (her) is not the subject of the investigation.
“I don’t understand how that is possible. Members’ equipment is members’ equipment. My understanding is that the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate members’ equipment when the member is not under investigation. It is their equipment and it is supposed to be returned,” Wasserman Schultz said in the annual police budget hearing of the House Committee On Appropriations’ Legislative Branch Subcommittee, reported observer.com.
The U.S. Capitol police chief responded, “I think there are extenuating circumstances in this case, and working through my counsel and the necessary personnel, if that in fact is the case, and with the permission of the investigation, then we’ll return the equipment. But until that happens we can’t return the equipment.”