Facing Stonewall, Burton To Issue Subpoenas -- Feb. 12, 1997
More Troubles For White House Besides Lake -- Feb. 11, 1997
Clinton Wants Probe Of Possible Chinese Involvement
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 13) -- President Bill Clinton called today for a "vigorous" and "thorough" investigation into reports that representatives of the People's Republic of China tried to direct financial contributions from overseas sources to the Democratic National Committee.
At a press conference today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the president stopped short of calling for an independent prosecutor, saying that was the decision of the Justice Department alone.
"This is a serious set of questions raised here, and the first I knew about any of it was last evening," Clinton told reporters. "They obviously have to be thoroughly investigated and I do not want to speculate or accuse anyone of anything. I know nothing about it other than what I heard last night.
"But obviously it would be a very serious matter for the United States if any country were to attempt to funnel funds to one of our parties for any reason whatever," Clinton added.
The Washington Post reported that Justice was reviewing U.S. intelligence obtained through electronic monitoring that suggests contributions to the DNC from foreign sources were coordinated at the Chinese embassy in Washington. Sources told the Post the evidence was "serious" and could raise the importance of the investigation of Democratic fund-raising practices.
While not directly confirming the report, Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick told reporters, "I'm not going to have any comment on the story except to say we're always concerned with the security of our investigations, and we have, and have had, a number of leak investigations ongoing."
The Chinese Embassy denied the charges, telling CNN they are "groundless and irresponsible" and another example of demonizing China.Gorelick appeared to question a suggestion in the Post's story that such a development might trigger appointment of an independent counsel, which by law occurs when a top White House official is implicated. Attorney General Janet Reno has so far turned down repeated requests for an independent prosecutor.
Gorelick said, "The task force has standing instructions that if it finds any information that would lead it to believe that there should be an independent counsel they're to bring this to our attention immediately and that has not occurred in this case."
That didn't stop Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been rebuffed twice, from trying again. "I would think that today's information ... and other information we've had since her refusal should help her to appoint an independent counsel to examine this situation," he told reporters today.
The possibility of Chinese government involvement in Democratic fund-raising was raised in January by Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.) who wrote FBI Director Louis Freeh requesting an investigation into possible "economic espionage" involving former DNC fund-raiser John Huang, who, records show, attended policy events at the Chinese embassy in October 1995. A former employee of the Indonesian Lippo Group and a former Commerce Department official, Huang is at the center of the inquiry into Democratic fund-raising.
"The potential finding is that our foreign policy has been sold for a price, national security has been sold for a price and certainly American business and industry has been penalized for what might have taken place in this political context," Solomon said earlier.
Twenty-five FBI agents have been assigned to the Justice investigation, though not as a direct result of Solomon's letter.
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