Trie Arrested By FBI
Campaign finance figure in custody, authorities say
By Terry Frieden/CNN
WASHINGTON (Feb. 3) -- Charles Yah Lin Trie, a longtime friend of President Bill Clinton and central figure in the campaign finance scandal, was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents, authorities said.
Trie, who was indicted on federal charges last week, was taken into custody at Dulles International Airport outside the city, and will be held in federal custody in Virginia. The Justice Department said Trie, 49, was arrested by FBI agents "under an agreement with the [campaign finance] task force."
Trie was taken immediately to the U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria, Va., for an initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan.
Trie was expected to be ordered to appear for an arraignment before U.S District Court Judge Paul Friedman in Washington, D.C., at 11 a.m. ET Thursday.
Officials indicated the arrest came following an arrangement with
attorneys for Trie, but details were not immediately disclosed.
Sources tell CNN Trie voluntarily flew from Paris to Washington Tuesday and was not escorted by federal agents. The sources say an agreement was finalized during the past weekend between Trie's Washington attorney, Reid Weingarten, and lawyers for Attorney General Janet Reno's campaign finance task force.
Trie agreed to turn himself in to FBI agents on entering the United States.
Officials say Trie was in Indonesia as recently as two weeks ago and then flew to France and on to the United States after the deal was sealed. The arrangement suggests Trie may have decided to cooperate with the Justice probe, but officials did not immediately confirm that they have won Trie's full cooperation.
Trie was named in a 15-count indictment Jan. 29 on a variety of
charges relating to campaign fund-raising activities. His indictment is the first produced by the Justice Department's task force.
Charges against Trie include obstruction of justice for allegedly
instructing an employee to destroy documents which had been subpoenaed by a Senate committee and a grand jury.
Trie raised or donated to the DNC more than $600,000, which was returned because it came from questionable sources. He also delivered more than $600,000 to Clinton's legal defense fund. That money also was returned.
Trie was thought to be in China and had actually given some interviews there in recent months. Attorney Janet Reno had asked Chinese officials for help in locating him, to no avail.
The indictment charges that Trie and an associate, Yuan Pei "Antonio" Pan, gave money to the Democratic National Committee in other people's names, reimbursing the phony contributors in cash.
The two men are accused, in effect, of purchasing access to U.S. government officials to promote their own businesses interests, domestically and internationally.
White House, DNC reactions
White House officials said Trie's surrender underscores the seriousness of the Justice Department investigation into allegations of fund-raising abuses.
Jim Kennedy, spokesman for the White House counsel's office, issued a terse statement: "The White House believes that these matters should proceed appropriately and that comments on the circumstances of Mr. Trie's surrender should be handled by the Justice Department."
Officials anticipate that other Democratic party fund-raisers are likely to be indicted by the Justice Department in the coming weeks.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Steve Langdon also issued a statement after Trie's arrest. "We are pleased that he has returned and hope that he will now be answering the allegations against him," Langdon said.