Armed with new evidence that Chinese military intelligence funneled money to the Democrats in 1996, congressional Republicans accused President Clinton Friday of allowing U.S. national security to be threatened.
Even senior Democrats who have steadfastly supported the White House expressed deep concern.The New York Times reported Friday that a Democratic fund-raiser, Johnny Chung, had told federal investigators that he funneled nearly $100,000 from a Chinese military officer to the Democrats during the summer of 1996.
The officer, Liu Chao-ying, sent Chung more than $300,000, which she told him originated with the intelligence agency of the Chinese military, according to officials who were briefed by the Justice Department about Chung's account. She told him to use the money for campaign contributions, the officials said. Apparently, Chung kept the rest for himself, several officials said Friday.
The White House repeated denials Friday that administration officials had any knowledge of the source of Chung's contributions or that the donations affected an administration decision in 1996 to make it easier for American companies to export space technology to China. "It's ludicrous to suggest there was an influence on the determination of U.S. policy in this matter," said a White House spokesman, Eric Rubin.
But the new information reignites a debate over an issue that Democrats and the White House thought they had successfully put to rest. And it prompted some members of Congress to renew their calls for Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to investigate 1996 campaign finance practices.
The disclosures have also galvanized Republicans on Capitol Hill, who had searched in vain for more than a year for a solid link between China and Democratic fund-raising practices that would resonate with American voters.