Wait a minute, what was that?
On Monday night Imran Awan, the principal IT aide to former DNC honcho Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was arrested at Dulles Airport attempting to flee the country. "IT" means information technology, as in computers, as in hacking, as in what the Democrats insist happened to the election.
Mr Awan's wife, Hina Alvi, has already flown the coop. In March, she pulled their three kids out of school and skipped back to Lahore, with (according to the FBI) "numerous pieces of luggage" and over $12,000 in cash.
Monday's airport arrest follows the seizure of broken hard drives from the garage of the Awans' former home. The hard drives had been smashed with a hammer. Whether it was the same ceremonial DNC hammer used to smash Hillary's Blackberries has not yet been determined.
What we have here, for the benefit of American reporters who may be unfamiliar with the concept, is an actual news story - an unusual event that's happened in recent times. It thus stands in contrast to, say, speculative fancies about whether or not money-no-object special counsel Robert Mueller is expanding his "Russia investigation" to set the many Hillary donors on his payroll into investigating Trump's sale of some property in Florida in 2008.
What connects the "fake news" and the real news is the DNC. The Russia "story" exists because the election wasn't hacked but the DNC was. Wikileaks released the Democrats' embarrassing emails to the world, although, helpfully, the US media mostly declined to report on them, and, in fact, CNN's Chris Cuomo lectured America that it's totally illegal for you mere citizens even to glance at these leaked emails. As it happens, the world's most inevitable presidential victor somehow managed to lose the election, and casting around for a reason the Dems decided that blaming it on a stiff tired unlikeable legacy candidate with no message and a minimal campaign schedule was too implausible. So instead they decided to blame it on Russian "hacking".
Julian Assange of Wikileaks says the Russians had nothing to do with the DNC email leaks. Take that with as many grains of salt as you want: he is, of course, a fugitive from justice, just like the DNC chair's IT aide and his wife and various relatives of theirs.
The Awan story has many interesting elements: The Pakistani-born Imran Awan, his wife, his brothers Abid and Jamal, and Abid's wife Natalia have provided IT services to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and dozens of lesser Democrat congressmen since about 2004. The family salaries totaled some $5 million, because supplying computer services to prominent Democrats is so vital and specialized a skill that it requires a rare and exceptional skill.The Awans' services were so critical that in March last year eight Democrat members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a letter demanding that these staffers be granted access to Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI).
Yet at the same time the Awans ran a full-time Virginia car dealership amusingly called Cars International A - or "CIA" - and were almost continually short of cash, requiring loans from all kinds of people including - Collusion Alert! - the Iraqi politician Ali al-Attar.
For inept broke car-dealers, the Awans somehow made themselves indispensable to powerful Democrats, among them those on sensitive committees such as Intelligence and Foreign Affairs including Andre Carson, Joaquín Castro, Lois Frankel, Robin Kelly, Ted Lieu and Jackie Speier. That's a lot of Democrat computers to wind up in the hands of one family of Pakistani immigrant car dealers. And it wasn't the full extent of the Awans' connections: that's Imran up above with putative First Gentleman Bill Clinton.
But who cares? It's not like Trump's son or son-in-law or vaguely connected former campaign advisor being in a room for 20 minutes with a Russian lawyer.
Meanwhile, Mr Awan's counsel says his client has been arrested for "working while Muslim". That line's so desperate it's bound to take off big-time.
Five months ago, as the coppers began closing the net on the family, other Democrats began distancing themselves from the Awan clan, notwithstanding their peerless IT skills. Representative Gregory Meeks of New York fired Mrs Awan on February 28th. Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio fired Mr Awan on March 1st. But Debbie Wasserman Schultz did not fire Awan until yesterday - after his arrest at the airport. Indeed, she has spent five months digging in with the guy. You want powerful politicians interfering with federal investigations? Forget about Trump hinting to Comey that he's really hoping for some loyalty, and consider a powerful member of a House sub-committee threatening the head of the Capitol Police that "you should expect that there will be consequences" for refusing to return one of her laptops set up and controlled by Awan:
Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz not do as her fellow congressmen did and dump the Awan clan as no longer politically convenient?
Occam's razor: Because she was head of the DNC and thus Awan knew too much for her to cut him loose.
Until yesterday. After his capture at the airport, while fleeing back to Pakistan.
The enterprsing lad is said to have been trusted by Debbie with her iPad password and other access codes. So in other words - unlike speculation about Putin's FSB being in DNC computers - we know this guy was in them.
Are the "Russia investigation" and the Awan story comparable? Well, they're both about hacking, and both about DNC computers. One of them has actual arrests, on-camera political interference, destroyed evidence, and a proven money trail from foreign politicians. The other has no arrests, and a meeting with a minor Russian lawyer arranged by an Azerbaijani pop star's publicist.
Oh, wait, what about the dodgy property deal?
You mean a family that's made five mil needing to borrow 165 grand and having to lie about it - which was the pretext for Awan's arrest at Dulles?
Nah, of course not. We mean Trump's sale of some Florida condo a decade ago.
Have Chris Cuomo and CNN yet pronounced that it's illegal for you even to follow the Awan/DNC story? Any moment now.
~Programming note: Tonight, Wednesday, I'll be back with Tucker Carlson, coast to coast on Fox News at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. I'll also be joining Ainsley, Steve and Brian on "Fox & Friends" live across America on Thursday morning at 8am Eastern.
If you prefer me in non-visual form, we're going to be experimenting with a live audio edition of our Clubland Q&A, taking questions from Mark Steyn Club members around the planet. That's next Tuesday at 4pm Eastern, which is 9pm British Summer Time, 10pm in Western Europe, and super-early on Wednesday morning for our Aussie members, but more agreeable for our Kiwi, Vanuatu, Cook and Solomon Island branches. (Seriously. I'm very heartened by our South Pacific membership. Now if only we could get Massachusetts on board.)
More details on that to follow. As I always say, membership of the Club isn't for everyone, but it does ensure that all our content remains available out there for everyone - in print, in audio, in video, all around the world. For more information on The Mark Steyn Club, see here - and look for the first edition of our Club newsletter, The Clubbable Steyn, which will be shipping later this week.
One other benefit of membership is the right to gambol and frolic through our comment section, so, for any pals of Debbie Wasserman Schultz among us, please log in and have at me below.