Critics have pounded U.S. Rep. , D-Weston, during the past two weeks over her handling of an for months after he was banned from the House IT network.
And they weren’t satisfied with her , the now fired IT worker, in an interview with the Sun Sentinel last week.
“millions of Americans” don’t trust her to “give straight answers to any of these questions” about Awan.
“Wasserman Schultz now makes a lot of self-serving excuses for Awan, dismisses her critics as right-wing media fringe, and suggests that law enforcement agencies are guilty of racial and ethnic profiling of Awan,” he said in an emailed statement. “For someone not involved in law enforcement, Wasserman Schultz has jumped to the worst conclusions about the motives of federal investigators and all other critics of how she has mismanaged her Congressional office.”
The of Florida was incredulous in a statement on Twitter. “SERIOUSLY?! Debbie says she has no regrets about keeping Awan on payroll while under FBI investigation,” the party wrote in a tweet.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush, also writing on Twitter, said Saturday, “The incompetence and terrible judgment displayed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and House is jarring.” Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 , was on the receiving end of criticism from Wasserman Schultz, who was chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the time.
and a major player in Al Gore’s unsuccessful 2000 presidential campaign, offered a different view.
“It’s disturbing that people wish to react rather than understand what happened,” Berger said Monday. “Doing the right thing sometimes is not easy. It’s called leadership. It’s not popularity. Popularity is different than leadership. Leadership is doing the right thing. Popularity is gaining the approval of others whether or not it’s doing the right thing.”
Many members paid him a part-time salary to provide support in their offices.
When congressional officers were told in February that Awan was under investigation, most quickly fired him. Wasserman Schultz kept him on the payroll — a decision she said she’d make the same way again — for more than six months.
The Broward/Miami-Dade County Democrat fired him on July 25, the day after he was arrested on bank fraud charges at an airport while trying to leave the country.
His arrest, , had nothing to do with the months-long investigation of Awan as an IT worker for a variety of members of Congress. An FBI affidavit filed with the criminal complaint said Awan and his wife claimed a property used to secure a home equity line of credit was a “principal residence,” when it was a rental property. Wasserman Schultz said there still hasn’t been any evidence presented that he’s done anything wrong involving his work for Congress.
And, she said, she believes he may have been put under scrutiny because of his religious faith. Awan is Muslim.
The Republican National Committee seized on that contention. An RNC email highlighting interview excerpts put this spin in the subject line: “DWS calls FBI, Capitol Police racist.”
Melba Pearson, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, said Wasserman Schultz seemed to have acted appropriately.
“The reality of the law of this land is innocent until proven guilty. So as far as she is concerned she was waiting to see if charges were going to be filed, where this investigation was going and – seeing the tenor of a lot of what’s going on on the Hill, she had legitimate concerns as to whether or not he was being profiled,” Pearson said in appearance Sunday on the WPLG-Ch. 10 “This Week in South Florida” program. “The minute charges were filed again him, she then released him from all employment, which makes sense to me. So I don’t think this necessarily is a huge issue.”
Berger said Wasserman Schultz “is a meticulously fair person and is not going to react unfairly to any individual until there is cause to act justly, so she measures twice and cuts once, which is the kind of person you want to be associated with,” Berger said.
on Wasserman Schultz since Awan’s arrest.
The attention has come from far and wide. One of President ’s favorite TV shows, “Fox & Friends,” had a four-day stretch of segments on Wasserman Schultz and Awan. Other shows on Fox, the favorite news channel of Republicans, and Fox Business, have joined the fray.
Even the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, weighed in on Twitter.“Just unbelievable,” she wrote, retweeting an account from her eponymous website that included information about the IT aide and Wasserman Schultz that came from the conservative website The Daily Caller.
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, criticized Wasserman Schultz in TV and radio interviews.
“We have to get to the bottom of this, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz has obstructed at every level on something that affects potentially our national security,” McDaniel said in a Fox News interview following Awan’s arrest. “I mean, it is a long story but something we have to get to the bottom of. We are not hearing the Democrats talk about it at all.”
In a radio interview, McDaniel declared that Wasserman Schultz is “not cooperating. She’s obstructing every chance she can. This is the thing that should be investigated right now.”
U.S. Rep. , R-Ponte Vedre Beach, termed the events “extremely odd” during an appearance on Fox News.
“Why weren’t alarm bells answered earlier?” he asked. “Why in heaven’s name was this guy allowed to stay even after we knew in February that these people were under investigation?”
Wasserman Schultz’ reaction to the criticism, in the interview last week: it’s all politics.
“Congressman DeSantis is planning to run for governor, and I get the sense that he probably wants to take every opportunity to say things that will get him attention in a Republican primary.”
Wasserman Schultz, who spent five years as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said McDaniel “has the worst job in America. And I think it’s very clear that she wants to do anything she can to distract and take people’s attention away from the way from the fact that we have a president in the White House that has done, that is a liar, that is unethical, that has done everything he can to avoid there being accountability for a foreign enemy state in Russia to be held to account for trying to help elect him.”
Canova faulted Wasserman Schultz for not addressing “questions about Awan destroying evidence by smashing two hard drives prior to his arrest.” The conservative website The Daily Caller has reported that Awan smashed computer hard drives, but there hasn’t been any independent verification. Federal authorities don’t comment about ongoing investigations.
Canova also sees an inconsistency in her explanation of an appropriations subcommittee hearing during which
When questioning Verderosa about a laptop that had been assigned to Awan at the May hearing she referred to rules surrounding equipment belonging to a member of Congress. In the interview Thursday, she said the laptop belonged to the office and wasn’t used by her.
Canova said those statements are inconsistent and show she was “lying.”
The RNC also highlighted the statements about the laptop during the May hearing and the August interview.
Wasserman Schultz’s communications director, David Damron, said there wasn’t a contradiction between the statements.
“In the committee meeting, the congresswoman referred to equipment that belonged to the member, as in it belonged to the member’s office. However, the equipment was for use by office staff, and it’s not anything she ever personally used,” he said via text message.