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Congress Pays $850,000 to Muslim Aides Targeted in Inquiry Stoked by Trump

The resulting agreement was signed by Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, in January and paid out this summer. It resolved claims brought by Mr. Awan and the other four staffers under the Federal Tort Claims Act that House officials behaved negligently in their second inquiry after the Justice Department found no evidence of illegal conduct.

The settlement also resolved claims that House officials inflicted emotional distress on the group, and that the initial investigation was motivated by the employees’ religion, national origin, race, or political affiliation.

In a statement, Ms. Lofgren said that the employees had threatened to sue various House members, offices and other employees, “seeking millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.” She said the House decided to settle “due to the likelihood of an unfavorable and costly litigation outcome,” although she asserted that based on the information it had at the time, the House had been right to revoke their network access.

Mr. Awan declined to comment on the settlement. Peter Romer-Friedman, one of the Awans’ lawyers, said that they would “never forget the courage and kindness” of lawmakers who had stood by his clients.

Mr. Awan was born in Pakistan in 1980 and moved to Northern Virginia in 1997. While in college, he worked as an intern for a company that provided I.T. services to congressional offices. He was hired directly by the office of Representative Robert Wexler of Florida after graduating and worked setting up email accounts and new equipment like phones and laptops for staff members.

Over the years, other Democratic members of Congress hired Mr. Awan to perform similar work under an arrangement that made him a “shared employee” and for which he was typically paid $20,000 each year per member of Congress. As the workload grew, Mr. Awan brought on two of his brothers, his wife and a friend to assist him, and they became shared employees as well. Together they eventually worked for more than 30 members of Congress.

Their employers included Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, who was recently named by President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. to a top White House position. The connection to Ms. Wasserman Schultz, who was the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the time of the 2016 email hack, is what prompted the baseless theories seized on by Mr. Trump that Mr. Awan, not the Kremlin, was responsible.


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