Time: Mon Jul 14 18:15:18 1997
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Date: Mon, 14 Jul 1997 17:18:33 -0700
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]

>Senate  Begins Probe of Clinton's Fund-Raising
>by Edward Zehr
>"From colorful characters to a provocative plot  line,  Tuesday's
>long-awaited opening of Senate campaign finance hearings seems to
>have all the ingredients for a major movie," gushed the  Arkansas
>Democrat-Gazette,   placing   the   Senate  Governmental  Affairs
>Committee hearings that  began  taking  testimony  last  week  in
>perspective as another summer entertainment event.
>The players will include Bruce Lindsey, John Huang, Charlie Trie,
>Wang  Jun  and  an  international  cast of front men and wheeler-
>dealers ranging from Buddhist monks to Beijing arms merchants, if
>only  in  absentia.  Charlie  Trie, who once owned Bill Clinton's
>favorite  Chinese  restaurant  in  Little  Rock,   is   presently
>sojourning  in Shanghai, accessible to network talking heads such
>as Tom Brokaw, but not to the Senate committee.
>Next the Democrat-Gazette lays out the plot for us:
>  "The money trail  that  links  those  people  with  President
>  Clinton  and  his Democratic allies in the 1996 campaign will
>  be a central theme as  Thompson  directs  the  GOP-controlled
>  committee  through  an  initial  four-week  run  of hearings.
>  Democrats, meanwhile, will push to turn  the  GOP's  campaign
>  activity into a major subplot."
>The Arkansas newspaper goes  on  to  emphasize  the  game-playing
>aspect of the hearings, stressing  that the Republicans hope that
>they will capture "national attention much like  the  Iran-Contra
>hearings  or  the  Watergate  investigation.  Their goal: examine
>questions of  whether  foreign  money  flowed  into  last  year's
>elections  and whether Democrats 'sold' access to the White House
>in exchange for campaign donations."
>"Democrats fear the sessions could turn  into  a  remake  of  the
>partisan bickering displayed during the 1995-96 Senate Whitewater
>hearings. Their goal: use the hearings as a platform  to  correct
>the campaign finance abuses of both parties."
>In other words, it's just another cynical exercise by Republicans
>to  gain  political  advantage  by faulting Democrats for dubious
>campaign finance practices when all we worldly  types  just  know
>that  "everybody  does  it."   The  public spirited Democrats are
>determined,  at  least,  to  use  the  hearings   constructively,
>according  to  the Democrat-Gazette. Nowhere do they mention that
>President Clinton's knowledge of illegal activities in connection
>with illicit fund-raising in the 1996 election is an issue in the
>hearings.  The Democrat-Gazette article goes on  to  recount  how
>the  Clinton  administration "dumped" documents in advance of the
>hearings in  order  "to  'burn  off'  damaging  news  stories  by
>selectively  releasing  documents  to the press at times when the
>White  House  wants.  This  prevents  Thompson's  committee  from
>releasing  them first during the public hearings, when they would
>attract more attention."
>The  administration  has  good  reason  to  divert  the  public's
>attention  from  the contents of these documents. For example, an
>October 7, 1996 memorandum to President Clinton from  White House
>aide  Phil Caplan mentions that the Democratic National Committee
>would be allocating $1 million "for  potential  fines"   incurred
>pursuant  to  the  fund-raising  process.  Clinton's  handwritten
>notation "ugh" appears in the margin next to the warning.   Micah
>Morrison,  writing  in  the  Wall  Street  Journal, comments that
>Clinton's scribbled notation "along with the  accompanying  stamp
>'The  President  Has Seen,' it does suggest that Mr. Clinton knew
>that some DNC fund-raising was presumptively illegal."
>What the mainstream press have been at pains to sweep  under  the
>carpet,  Morrison  puts  into sharp focus with the comment, "What
>the country deserves to know is whether this pattern of violation
>was directed by a conspiracy hatched in the Oval Office."
>In other words, was the illegal fund-raising inadvertent, or  was
>it deliberate and premeditated? The implications of the answer to
>this question are enormous.  Morrison defines the issue in  basic
>legal terms:
>  "Under conspiracy statutes, if Bill Clinton agreed  with  his
>  top  aides  to raise money by means he recognized as illegal,
>  and if  actual criminal acts resulted, he would be a party to
>  the  conspiracy,  as  guilty  of  the  crime  as  the  actual
>  perpetrators. The defining question is,  in  the  lexicon  of
>  Watergate:  What  did the President know and when did he know
>  it?"
>The columnist characterizes Attorney General Janet Reno's failure
>to  appoint  an  independent  counsel  to  investigate   campaign
>contributions as "indefensible...once the issue is  framed  as  a
>possible  criminal  conspiracy  involving the president and other
>covered officials..."
>Morrison summarizes  the long laundry list of allegations in  the
>fund-raising scandal:
>John Huang is said to have laundered millions in illegal campaign
>contributions  to  the Democrats "through the likes of poor monks
>at the now-famous Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple fund-raiser  hosted  by
>Vice  President  Al  Gore,  Indonesian gardeners, and a glorified
>former Arkansas burger-flipper named Charlie Trie."
>Mr. Trie, in turn, "funneled hundreds  of  thousands  of  dollars
>from  foreign  accounts at the Bank of China to the DNC. Mr. Trie
>also attempted to deliver more than $600,000 in suspicious checks
>to  the  Clintons'  legal  defense trust, and once showed up at a
>White House coffee with a Chinese arms dealer."
>The arms dealer referred to here is Wang  Jun,  chairman  of  the
>Poly  Technologies  group,  a  front  for  the  Chinese  People's
>Liberation Army's arms exporting  operations.  Kenneth  Timmerman
>wrote  in the American Spectator that Wang has brokered  "some of
>China's largest foreign arms sales."
>The New York Times recently reported that "Mr. Trie also appeared
>in  Manhattan  in  August  1996  with  $100,000  for the DNC as a
>presidential birthday party got  underway  at  Radio  City  Music
>Hall,"  according  to Morrison. As previously noted, Mr. Trie has
>now taken up residence in Shanghai  and  refuses  to  respond  to
>urgent demands by the Senate committee that he testify.
>Furthermore, Morrison says that  former  White  House  aide  Mark
>Middleton  "attempted  to  solicit  Taiwanese  officials  for $15
>million in campaign donations at a time when China was conducting
>missile tests in the waters off  Taiwan and President Clinton was
>deciding whether to dispatch the Seventh Fleet to the  area;  Mr.
>Middleton  denies  the  charges  and says he'll invoke  the Fifth
>Amendment if called to testify."
>If the charges are untrue one wonders why Mr. Middleton finds  it
>necessary  to  take  the  Fifth -- on the other hand, if they are
>true he would  be  well  advised  to  do  so  since  a  shakedown
>conducted in so blatant a manner would be highly illegal.
>Morrison's list continues, "Hillary Clinton's  top  aide,  Maggie
>Williams,  received  a  $50,000  campaign  check  from California
>businessman Johnny Chung in the  White  House,  although  federal
>statutes   bar   government   employees   from   accepting   such
>"Mr.  Chung  managed  to  contribute  $360,000  overall  to   the
>Democrats," says Morrison, "despite being labeled a 'hustler' out
>to impress his Chinese business associates by a National Security
>Council   official.  Mr. Chung has not responded to congressional
>Notice, the only individual  in  this  rogue's  gallery  who  has
>offered  to  make  himself  available to testify thus far is John
>Huang. He did so unexpectedly on the eve of the hearings after he
>had  earlier  asserted his intention to take the Fifth. His offer
>was  made  conditional  upon  his  receiving  limited   immunity,
>The offer required clearance  from  the  Justice  Department  and
>Janet  Reno  was  reluctant to assent to this. Committee chairman
>Fred Thompson, after initially expressing  willingness  to  grant
>Huang  limited  immunity  in return for his testimony on Tuesday,
>was having second thoughts by the following day,  concerned  that
>it  could  shield  Huang from any possible prosecution.  Democrat
>Sen. John Glenn of  Ohio  had  no  doubts  at  all,  telling  the
>committee,  "Under  no circumstances would Mr. Huang be immunized
>from prosecution for any act of  espionage  or  for  any  offense
>prosecutable  for the disclosure of classified information or for
>acting as an agent for any foreign government.''
>The problem would seem to be that immunity, once given,  is  very
>difficult  to  limit  --  it  could well undermine any subsequent
>attempt to prosecute Mr. Huang.  The  tradeoff  is  that  Huang's
>testimony   might   incriminate   others   higher   up   in   the
>administration, including Mr. Clinton himself. Indeed, the threat
>of  prosecution  might  induce Mr. Huang to plea bargain, trading
>testimony  against  higher  officials  for  a  lenient  sentence.
>Perhaps  Chairman  Thompson  does  not  consider  the  risk worth
>taking, although he  is  continuing  to  negotiate  with  Huang's
>lawyer in an effort to elicit his client's testimony.
>Also included in Morrison's  cast  of  picaresque  characters  is
>Roger  Tamraz,  whom  he  describes  as  "wanted in  Lebanon on a
>charge of embezzling $200 million. Mr. Tamraz,  last  spotted  in
>the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, gave more than $170,000 to state
>and national Democratic organizations."
>The Wall Street Journal columnist concludes by noting that  "Thai
>lobbyist  Pauline  Kanchanalak  pushed  a  $7 million deal at the
>Export-Import Bank for a Blockbuster video franchise in  Bangkok,
>while  channeling more than $500,000 to the Democratic Party. The
>deal fell apart and the  Democrats  have  returned  most  of  the
>money;  Ms.  Kanchanalak has decided to remain in Thailand for  a
>All of this, Morrison notes dryly, is apparently regarded by  the
>Democrats  on  the  Governmental  Affairs  Committee  "as  merely
>random acts of excessive exuberance." He suggests, however,  that
>the  hearings  are  likely  to  develop evidence that Mr. Clinton
>understood far more about what his agents  were  doing  than  his
>vague  pronouncements  on the subject would imply. That, in fact,
>they understood full  well  that  they  were  taking  money  from
>illegal   sources.   All  of  which  seems  consistent  with  the
>information disclosed thus far -- the real  question  is  whether
>the majority members of the committee will have the moral courage
>to pursue the evidence to its logical conclusion in the  face  of
>massive  hostility  on the part of the mainstream press, who seem
>inclined to protect Mr. Clinton no matter what is revealed.
>The Los Angeles Times carried a news item early  last  week  that
>said in part:
>  "Investigators have recovered the contents of two safes  from
>  John  Huang's  former office at the Commerce Department in an
>  effort to determine whether the former Clinton administration
>  appointee improperly handled classified information."
>Huang had contacted Clinton early in 1993 requesting that  he  be
>appointed  to a position in the new administration. As noted in a
>previous  column,  Huang  received  an  appointment   as   deputy
>assistant  secretary   for  international  economic policy in the
>Commerce Department resulting in  his   acquiring  a   top-secret
>clearance  without going through the usual FBI background checks.
>According  to  The  London  Sunday   Times,  Huang  was  given  a
>clearance  on  direct  instructions  from  Commerce Secretary Ron
>Brown, although "background  checks  by  the  FBI  or  the  state
>department's  Office  of Security  [are] a strict requirement for
>somebody born in a foreign country."
>In fact  Huang was  given top-secret clearance five months before
>he  joined the Commerce Department and was allowed to keep it for
>a year after he left.
>According to the L. A. Times article, the search of Huang's  safe
>turned  up  10 secret documents " as well as indications that the
>Commerce Department inventory system was too porous to trace  the
>whereabouts  of sensitive materials Huang received when he worked
>at the agency."
>A Senate investigator said, "The bottom line is that [Huang]  had
>virtually  unlimited access to hundreds and hundreds of pieces of
>intelligence information, and (government officials) have no idea
>what they showed this guy or what he had."
>The FBI and Senate  investigators  are  presently  attempting  to
>determine  whether Huang passed classified information to foreign
>governments or business concerns. According to the  L.  A.  Times
>article, Huang made more than 150 phone calls "to Lippo officials
>between July 1994 and December 1995," while he was an official at
>the Commerce Department. He also placed calls from the Washington
>office of Stephens Inc., an investment company  based  in  Little
>Rock,  Ark.,  that  has business ties to Lippo and according to a
>secretary at the firm, he brought Commerce  Department  documents
>with him to the Stephens office.
>Gerald  Solomon  (R-N.Y.),  the  chairman  of  the  House   Rules
>Committee,   stated  last  month  that  "electronically  gathered
>evidence--presumably  telephone  calls  monitored   by   a   U.S.
>intelligence  agency--confirmed  that  Huang  relayed 'classified
>information' to the Lippo Group," the L. A. Times article said.
>The article further revealed that:
>  "In his government post, Huang received regular  intelligence
>  briefings  on  Asia  because he was 'an Asian specialist' and
>  'responsible for the Asia portfolio,' said John H. Dickerson,
>  a CIA liaison to Commerce who regularly briefed Huang between
>  October 1994 and November  1995.  Huang  had  a  'particular'
>  interest   in   China,  Dickerson  said  during  a  three-day
>  deposition in April, according to transcripts."
>Dickerson indicated in an affidavit  that  he  was  surprised  to
>learn  that  Huang  had  failed  to  return or destroy all of the
>classified documents in his possession when he left the  Commerce
>Department in 1995. That is a violation of security regulations.
>"Huang's 'top secret'  clearance  allowed  him  access  to  'raw'
>intelligence  data,  finished  intelligence reports and copies of
>electronic State Department cables from embassies abroad," the L.
>A.  Times  said,  adding  that  "three  reports  given  to  Huang
>explicitly warned that any unauthorized release 'could result  in
>the death of a source.'"
>On the first day of public hearings Chairman  Fred  Thompson  led
>off  with  a  statement  that, "The committee believes that high-
>level Chinese government officials crafted  a  plan  to  increase
>China's influence over the U.S. political process."
>Thompson elaborated on this, alleging that the Chinese government
>had  poured money into national and state political campaigns, in
>violation of U.S. law, in an effort to influence  the  policy  of
>our government to its own advantage.
>"The  government  of  China  is  believed   to   have   allocated
>substantial  sums  of  money  to  achieve  its  objectives," said
>Thompson, adding that the effort is still underway.
>Sen. John Glenn of Ohio, the ranking Democrat on  the  committee,
>disputed  Thompson's  allegation,  saying,   "I think I have seen
>everything the  chairman  has  seen,  and  I  recall  nothing  to
>document allegations that China had done anything illegal,"
>Referring to the  Lippo  Group,  Sen.  Thompson  noted  that  its
>operations  had formerly been oriented towards Indonesia but that
>their focus had subsequently shifted to mainland China.
>The lead witness, former Democratic  National  Committee  Finance
>Director Richard Sullivan, testified that Don Fowler, the head of
>the DNC, was not enthusiastic about hiring Huang as a fund raiser
>when  he  was first approached by Joseph Giroir, formerly a major
>player at the Rose Law Firm, who was working with  Lippo  at  the
>James Riady, whose family owns Lippo, and Huang subsequently  met
>with  Clinton  and   aide   Bruce  Lindsey  at  the  White House.
>Sullivan  was  later  told  by  Marvin  Rosen,  the  DNC  Finance
>Chairman,  that  Clinton  had a specific interest in having Huang
>hired by the DNC, mentioning that he had received two calls  from
>White  House  Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes. Huang was hired
>on November 13.  Although Sullivan ordered that  Huang  be  given
>extensive  briefings  to  ensure  his  understanding of the legal
>limitations on fund- raising, it is not clear  whether  any  such
>briefings actually took place.
>Asked about his role in the DNC's hiring of Huang,  Mr.  Clinton,
>who  was  attending  the  NATO  conference  in  Madrid, said with
>characteristic clarity:
>  "I can only tell you what I recall about that. I believe that
>  John  Huang at some point when I saw him in 1995 expressed an
>  interest in going to work to try to help raise money for  the
>  Democratic  Party and I think I may have said to someone that
>  he wanted to go to work for the DNC. And I think it was -  he
>  said  that  to  me and I relayed it that to someone - I don't
>  remember who I said it to, but I do believe I did say that to
>  someone.  And I wish I could tell you more; that's all I know
>  about it."
>The Wall Street Journal reported that, "Despite disclosures after
>President  Clinton's  re-election of the Democratic Party's fund-
>raising problems, Mr. Sullivan told the  senators  he  was  never
>confronted   with   any  evidence  of  the  party's  fund-raising
>irregularities during the crush of last year's election."
>Sullivan looked somewhat befuddled, however, when he attempted to
>explain  why  White House coffees held by Clinton were not really
>fund-raisers although they had,  in  fact,  been  used  to  raise
>funds.   Citing  a  document  Sullivan  had  drafted for high DNC
>officials titled "Fundraising dates received to date  from  White
>House and fund-raising dates requested" which referred to several
>of Clinton's coffees, noting the fund-raising target of  each  of
>the  events  as  well  as  the  money  actually raised, Sen. Pete
>Domenici,  (R-N.M.)  cut  off  Sullivan's  testimony,  expressing
>Why  had  Sullivan  attempted  to   make   such   a   far-fetched
>distinction?    The  Hatch  Act  prohibits  the  solicitation  of
>political donations  in  government  buildings.  Clinton's  fund-
>raising coffee klatsches were illegal.
>Sullivan's testimony was something of  a  disappointment  to  the
>Republican  members  of  the  committee as the information he had
>given in his earlier deposition had been far more specific -- and
>damaging  to  the Democrats. For example, Sullivan had apparently
>indicated in his deposition that the DNC discontinued its  normal
>procedures  for  checking  the legality of large contributions in
>1994. Under questioning, however,  Sullivan  stonewalled,  saying
>that  he did not know why the checking had been discontinued, but
>was sure that it hadn't been done purposefully.
>In frustration, a GOP staffer leaked a copy of the deposition  to
>the press. And how did the press react? They rushed to the phones
>-- just as in the good old days -- but instead of  dictating  the
>dirt  in  the  deposition to the rewrite desk, they called up the
>Democrats and tattled on the GOP  for  leaking  the  document  to
>them.  Which  only serves to confirm a long-standing suspicion of
>mine -- these people are not really journalists at all.
>  Published in the Jul. 14, 1997 issue of The Washington Weekly
>  Copyright 1997 The Washington Weekly (http://www.federal.com)
>          Reposting permitted with this message intact

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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