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FBI Overlooked Evidence Of China Influence-Buying

Another misstep portends more criticism of Justice's campaign fund-raising investigation


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Nov. 14) -- In another embarrassment for the Justice Department, the FBI has admitted overlooking key information dating back to 1991 about possible Chinese influence in U.S. elections.

Government officials told The Washington Post that the newly discovered counterintelligence files provide evidence that Democratic fund-raisers Maria Hsia and John Huang acted on behalf of China.

The files were discovered, according to an FBI statement released today, after an extensive review ordered by FBI director Louis Freeh.

"During the course of this ongoing review, the FBI identified other relevant materials, at which time Director Freeh promptly briefed the Department of Justice and congressional committees," the statement said.


"Much of the counterintelligence information gathered by the FBI consists of raw, uncorroborated intelligence that requires significant analysis before the information is appropriate for dissemination," the statement continued.

The Post described Attorney General Janet Reno as "livid." She and Freeh apologized to Sen. Fred Thompson, the chairman of the Senate's fund-raising inquiry, for not turning over the sensitive information to him, the Post reported.

Indiana GOP Rep. Dan Burton, the chairman of a House panel investigating fund-raising, is demanding "face-to-face meetings" with Reno and Freeh, charging their respective agencies were either "inept or deliberately kept things from the American people," according to The Associated Press.

According to the FBI information, Hsia, a 46-year-old Taiwanese American immigrant, is described as a possible "agent" for China. She helped arrange a controversial fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple in Los Angeles attended by Vice President Al Gore, and has contributed to Democratic candidates through her fund-raising group, the Pacific Leadership Council.


The review also unearthed unconfirmed evidence that John Huang passed a classified document to the Chinese government while he worked at the Commerce Department. Other files document a Chinese government plan to funnel political donations to candidates through joint business ventures with U.S. companies.

An attorney for Hsia told the Post it's "ludicrous to suggest she is or was an agent of the Chinese government in any way, shape or form."

Another round of Reno-bashing?

According to the Post, the new information won't necessarily lead to criminal charges. But it will likely turn up the heat on the attorney general, whose fund-raising investigation has been plagued by embarrassments and criticism.

Reno's preliminary inquiry into whether an independent counsel should be appointed to investigate Vice President Gore's White House fund-raising calls came only after The Washington Post reported some of the money Gore raised had been deposited in hard-money accounts at the Democratic Party. That information had been overlooked by Justice investigators for months.

Evidence suggesting California businessman Ted Sioeng could be a Chinese agent was missed for over two years, as well.

Congressional Republicans have long insisted that Reno's investigation is incompetent, suffers from conflicts of interest and should be turned over to an independent counsel.

Reno has repeatedly expressed confidence in her team, but one government official interviewed by the Post called the latest lapse "remarkable incompetence."

In Other News:

Friday Nov. 14, 1997

FBI Overlooked Evidence Of China Influence-Buying
Chung Talks, But Off The Record
Clinton Discusses Drugs, Trade With Mexican President
Hatch Says Lee's Nomination Dead
Breaking Old Habits
Court To Consider Harassment Issue
Congress Adjourns For The Year
Congress Approves Adoption Change
Congress Increases Foreign Aid
Business Left Over By Congress
Clinton Vetoes Congress' 'Veto'
Congress Scraps Down To The Wire

E-Mail From Washington:
Ethics Panel To Investigate Rep. Shuster
No Trial Date Set In McDougal Case

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