Donald Trump’s “Pakistani Mystery Man” Turns Out to Be an Ordinary IT Guy

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Earlier today the DC office of the US Attorney concluded a plea agreement with a guy named Imran Awan. Awan agreed to plead guilty to making a false statement on a loan application, for which he’ll probably get probation and pay a modest fine. Oddly, though, the plea agreement also includes this:

That’s peculiar. Why are prosecutors going out of their way to explain that Awan didn’t steal a Democratic Caucus server; didn’t destroy any House equipment; and didn’t hack any classified information? Probably because of this:

And this:

That’s our president lobbying his own Justice Department for the prosecution of a man who did nothing wrong but nonetheless found himself in the middle of yet another stupid conservative conspiracy firestorm. Awan (the “Pakistani mystery man”) supposedly moved terabytes of information off a Democratic server and smashed a bunch of hard drives while working as an IT specialist in the office of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, something that conservative lawmakers found deeply troubling. Trump then took it a step further and claimed that the whole thing was a massive scandal related to the Clinton emails and should be vigorously prosecuted.

In reality, Awan was an ordinary IT guy who was guilty only of taking out a home equity loan and then sending the money to his father in Pakistan, who was gravely ill at the time. That’s it. But the president of the United States went after him publicly for no reason except that it was politically useful as a cudgel against other people. He knew nothing about Awan and couldn’t have cared less.

Congratulations, America. This is your chief law enforcement officer at work.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend