- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 1999

John Huang’s taleJohn Huang, the former vice chairman of finance at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who played a major role in the 1996 Democratic fund-raising scandal, finally testified in public last week, appearing for three days before the House Government Reform Committee. Earlier this year Huang accepted a sweetheart plea bargain from Attorney General Janet Reno’s Justice Department. He pled guilty to federal election law violations involving a mere $7,500 in donations unrelated to the 1996 scandal, in which the DNC was forced to return more than half of the $3 million Huang had raised. His penalty was typical for Democratic fund-raising felons: probation, a minor fine and community service.Considering the hand slap the Justice Department had administered to him, Huang understandably was hardly inclined to implicate his benefactors, despite the grant of immunity he received from the committee. For example, he testified that then-Gov. Clinton was unaware that some of the $1 million foreign national James Riady promised to raise for his 1992 presidential campaign would be raised illegally. Well, of course Mr. Clinton would be conveniently unaware. Why would someone who had been operating in an ethical swamp for 15 years ever suspect that Mr. Riady whose $6 billion Indonesia-based Lippo Group conglomerate derived profits from its close association with a corrupt dictator and its joint venturers with the corrupt Communist Chinese government would resort to illegal means to gain influence with the next president of the United States? Huang also helpfully denied that Vice President Al Gore was aware that the 1996 luncheon at a Buddhist temple in California was, in fact, a fund-raiser despite the fact that it yielded $140,000, half of which had to be returned.Huang also emphatically denied that he passed any secrets, which he obtained from his 109 classified CIA briefings as a Commerce Department official, to his former Lippo associates, whom he repeatedly telephoned and faxed from a private business office during the period he received those briefings. Huang did acknowledge that Mr. Riady, who was obsessed with the United States’ Asia policy, had hoped that his 1992 fund-raising prowess would have netted Huang a job in the State Department or at the National Security Council, in which case, Huang said, Mr. Riady had hoped that “he might be able to get some information” on U.S. Asian policy. Despite a conclusion by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that the Riady family has had “a long time relationship with a Chinese intelligence agency,” Huang, who served as Lippo’s highest-ranking U.S. corporate officer before joining the Commerce Department in 1994, denied knowing if the Chinese that were engaged in joint ventures with Lippo had any ties to Chinese intelligence agencies. He might as well have said he didn’t know if the pope was Catholic.Interestingly, Huang did reveal that he, like fellow Clinton administration felon Webster Hubbell, was also a beneficiary of Lippo’s largess while being pressured by U.S. law enforcement officials. Just as Hubbell received a $100,000 consulting contract from Lippo in 1994 while he was supposed to be cooperating with Whitewater Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, Huang admitted to receiving $38,000 from the Riady family in 1997 and 1998 while he was under investigation for the 1996 fund-raising scandal. Lippo just can’t seem to resist pouring money into the bank accounts of those people in a position to say bad things about President Clinton, who has done such good things for Lippo businesses.The hearings also revealed the astonishing fact that in two interviews with President Clinton and three interviews with Vice President Gore in 1997 and 1998, Justice Department campaign-task-force investigators apparently failed to question either man about his relationship with Huang or Charlie Trie, another fund-raising felon who received a sweetheart deal from the Justice Department. Nor was Mr. Gore asked about the fund-raiser at the Buddhist temple.In response to these revelations, Miss Reno had the audacity to issue a written statement declaring that her department’s investigation “has been conducted in an orderly manner, and interviews have been conducted so as to focus on the matters then under review.” The idea that Mr. Clinton would not be questioned about Huang, who was transferred to the DNC during a September 1995 White House meeting attended by James Riady and the president, simply confirms how determined Miss Reno’s Justice Department was to remain ignorant about a scandal that linked a foreign corporation in partnership with the Chinese Communist government to the election and reelection of William Jefferson Clinton.

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