Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Politics

Men charged in impersonation plot interacted with Secret Service agents who protected White House and VP residence

Judge Michael Harvey is expected to rule Tuesday afternoon on whether the defendants, Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali, must stay in jail before trial. They have both asked to be released on house arrest. The Justice Department describes the two as a potential flight risk.

During Tuesday’s hearing, prosecutors didn’t provide any further information on what, if anything, Ali and Taherzadeh received from the federal agents they interacted with, nor did they suggest what the men’s intentions were in befriending the agents. Lawyers for both defendants deny that their clients were part of an intelligence operation to influence US officials.

At least four members of the Secret Service have been placed on leave pending investigations.

An internal Secret Service review found no evidence that sensitive digital records were breached after four of its members were duped by Taherzadeh and Ali, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

A scrubbing of internal records found there’s no indication that Secret Service digital records were breached or passed to the defendants, according to the official. The defendants also never physically entered any protectee locations, the official said.

The official also said that employees from more than a dozen agencies came into contact with at least one of the defendants during the two-year period of their alleged scam. Federal prosecutors previously said Taherzadeh and Ali interacted with officials from the Secret Service, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and the Navy.

Prosecutors said in court Tuesday that the Secret Service agents who interacted with the alleged imposters were stationed at the White House and the vice presidential residence at the Naval Observatory.

Encounter with DC police

One of those contacts, which is now receiving scrutiny, is an encounter in February 2021 with the Metropolitan Police Department in DC, more than a year before the arrests.

Officers responded to a report of a person with a gun in the building that the FBI raided last week as part of the “fake feds” probe. The responding officers spoke with Taherzadeh, who was with two other men, and concluded that the supposed rifle that was spotted by a bystander was actually a legal airsoft gun. The officers closed the matter and left the scene.

Prosecutors have said in court filings that they seized a cache of weapons from multiple DC apartments tied to the defendants.

Potential foreign ties

Prosecutors also responded to accusations from defense lawyers that the government was improperly accusing Ali of being connected to Pakistani intelligence, causing a media frenzy.

Rothstein said he was not accusing Ali of having any connection to the Pakistani intelligence agency known as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), but rather that Ali himself had made those claims to one witness and prosecutors “are bringing facts to [the judges] attention.”

Ali’s attorney clarified that he is not a Pakistani citizen and only had a Pakistan national identity card to “avoid having to seek visas” to the country, where he was born.

A spokesperson from the Pakistani Embassy in Washington said the claim that Ali is tied to Pakistani’s ISI is “totally fallacious” and that “the embassy categorically rejects this false claim.”

CNN’s Marshall Cohen and David Shortell contributed to this report.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like

Politics

On Friday, Willow’s crate was spotted being carried by a staff member from the White House residence to Marine One, the presidential helicopter that...

Politics

“As a teacher, I’ve imagined that scene in my own classroom, again and again,” said Biden during remarks at the National Parent Teachers Association’s...

Politics

Navarro is charged with contempt of Congress after failing to appear for testimony or turn over documents in the House select committee’s investigation. While...

Politics

The hearing, which had been scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed until next week, would feature former top Trump administration legal officials who stood...

Politics

Paladino, then a Buffalo school board member, was defending himself against allegations that previous comments he made were racist and said he cared about...

Politics

But there was a striking change from pre-2020 briefings: It touched on violent threats to election officials that stem from conspiracy theories about the...

Politics

But inside the Treasury Department, teams of sanctions experts view that resilience as a mirage. In exclusive interviews with CNN, top Treasury Department officials...

Politics

The presidential election controversy is roiling the Supreme Court again, as the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack continues...