Charlie Trie Indicted
Clinton Friend Linked To Questionable Fund Raising
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 28) -- Charlie Trie, a longtime friend of President Bill Clinton, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington in connection with campaign finance abuses, CNN has learned.
Sources say that a sealed indictment handed down Wednesday accuses Trie of election law violations and mail fraud. However, Trie, believed to be somewhere in Asia, has not been arrested because he cannot be found.
Trie has been one of the central figures in the investigations of alleged improprieties in raising money for the 1996 campaign. He raised a combined $1.2 million for the Democratic National Committee and Clinton's legal defense fund -- money which both entities later returned because of questions about its source.
Congressional investigators have alleged that some of the money Trie contributed to Clinton and the Democrats may have come from sources in China, which are barred by federal law from contributing to American election campaigns.
Trie also has been linked to schemes by which money was distributed to people legally able to contribute, who then allegedly donated it to the Democrats in their names in order to conceal the actual source of the funds.
Trie also was seen on one of the videotapes taken of controversial White House receptions for campaign donors. The tapes were turned over to congressional investigators last November.
Trie has been a friend of the president since the 1970s, when Clinton was attorney general of Arkansas. Trie owned a Chinese restaurant in Little Rock that Clinton frequented.
In 1994, Trie moved to Washington and eventually became part of an effort to raise money from Asian-American sources for the Democrats.
When those fund-raising efforts started to raise headlines after the 1996 elections, Trie disappeared and is thought to now be in China, thwarting congressional committees who wanted to haul him up to Capitol Hill to testify.
Attorney General Janet Reno has been trying to get Chinese authorities to cooperate in the campaign finance investigation.
Trie's indictment is the first from a Justice Department task force established in 1996 to investigate campaign fund raising. Three other people -- Nora and Gene Lum and Michael Brown -- have pleaded guilty prior to indictment.
The Lums, who own an Oklahoma pipeline company, admitted to laundering $50,000 in illegal donations for 1994 congressional campaigns. Brown, the son of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, admitted giving money to three other people so that they could donate it to the 1994 re-election campaign of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
Federal prosecutors are seeking to keep the indictment against Trie sealed. U.S. Magistrate Deborah Robinson ordered them to submit written arguments on that request Thursday before she would grant it.
CNN Justice Department Correspondent Pierre Thomas contributed to this report.