Post: China Approved Influence-Buying Plan In 1995
Reno, Freeh brief senators on progress of the investigation
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 25) -- Federal investigators have evidence that top Chinese officials not only approved plans in 1995 to buy influence with U.S. politicians, but are trying to keep the effort alive despite investigations and media scrutiny, The Washington Post reported today.
Unnamed U.S. government officials quoted by the Post say intercepted contacts between Beijing and the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., have established that the influence-buying plan was "government sanctioned" and approved by "top" Chinese officials. The Chinese planned to spend about $2 million on the plan, according to the FBI's information.
While they declined to name names, one U.S. official was quoted as saying, "It's a pretty small top." China is ruled by President Jiang Zemin and Premier Li Peng.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh provided information on the progress of the FBI probe to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Sen. Arlen Specter, who attended the briefing, said the allegations against the Chinese government are "very, very serious."
"These are foreign contributions, and laundered money, and it's illegal," the Pennsylvania Republican told the Post.
During recent trips to China, both Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have brought up the allegations, but Chinese officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in U.S. elections.
The FBI also is attempting to trace some China-U.S. money transfers, but has not determined whether payments reached any individuals or groups, the Post said.
Democrats and President Bill Clinton's legal defense fund already have returned a total of about $3.5 million in contributions, saying they couldn't verify the source of the funds.
At a news conference today, President Bill Clinton once again said that if China has tried to exert improper influence on U.S. officials, it would be "a matter of serious concern."
"But I think it is important that we not accuse people of something that we don't know for sure that they have done," Clinton said.
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