That dog won't hunt, crackhead.
Post by GT
Justice Begins Inquiry On China Missile Controversy
In the House, Rep. Cox would lead probe
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 20) -- Justice Department attorneys have begun
an inquiry into what role, if any, campaign contributions played in the
White House's decision to help two U.S. space and communications companies,
CNN has learned.
In turn, the companies allegedly may have helped China improve its military
The inquiry, which will involve a massive document review, will be done by a
task force already looking into campaign finance abuses during the 1996
Sources tell CNN the goal of the inquiry is to see whether a full-scale
investigation into the growing China controversy is necessary. The task
force will be told to forward any information suggesting a need for an
independent counsel probe.
One source told CNN the task force has authority to use a grand jury to
subpoena records, but probably not to call witnesses.
The inquiry will also look at whether the White House decisions had any
relationship to controversial Democratic contributor Johnny Chung.
Chung has told the FBI some of the donations he gave the Democratic National
Committee came from Chinese aerospace officials who had ties to China's
Senior Justice officials maintain that no specific allegation of wrongdoing
by President Bill Clinton has yet surfaced. Some FBI officials, however,
privately believe the independent counsel review process should begin and
they believe a more aggressive approach should be in place to get to
witnesses immediately. However, Justice sources say the FBI has not raised
those concerns in meetings about the issue.
The inquiry was launched Monday, sources say, but was given additional
guidance on what to seek following a meeting Wednesday.
Rep. Cox would lead House inquiry
In another development, Rep. Chris Cox has confirmed he has been selected by
House Speaker Newt Gingrich to chair a proposed special committee to
investigate possible national security violations in the sale of U.S.
missile technology to China, as well as possible attempts by the Chinese
military to influence the U.S. election process.
Cox said the proposed inquiry would be broad and involve the jurisdiction of
many House committees.
"It would make sense to consider, and this is only under consideration, a
committee that would be focused on the subject matter rather than on a
corner of it within the jurisdiction of one of our committees," said Cox, a
California Republican and China authority.
The entire House will vote on the proposed committee when Congress returns
from its Memorial Day recess.
Gingrich has said the inquiry is about national security, not campaign
fund-raising, but the two are destined to converge should the proposal come
Gingrich offered the idea of a select committee in response to allegations
the Clinton Administration gave special treatment to Loral Space and
Communications in its sensitive dealings with China's space agency.
Loral's chief executive officer, Bernard Schwartz, is a major Democratic
President Clinton signed a waiver allowing Schwartz's company to sell
missile technology to China over the objection of the Pentagon. Loral denies
Gingrich's plan is to make the new select committee similar to the one
chaired by Sen. Sam Ervin in 1973 during the Watergate scandal, but this one
would have five Republican and three Democratic members.
The White House voiced skepticism about the proposed new committee, but said
it would work with Congress in any event. "That's their business, not ours,"
said White House spokesman Mike McCurry.
Strong words on House floor
Meanwhile, the House debated several amendments to the Defense Authorization
Act designed to pressure the White House to reveal what happened regarding
the export of satellite technology to China.
Republicans said the issue was national security.
"One would think common sense tells us that we should not send any of our
defense-related technology or equipment to the only remaining communist
country in the world that maintains a nuclear capability," said Rep. Joel
Republicans challenged Democrats. "My colleagues on the other side of the
aisle need to be patriots first and politicians second, patriots first and
politicians second," said Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana.
In fact, with heavy Democratic support, the House rammed through a series of
just-drafted amendments that would prohibit sharing U.S. satellites or
missile technology with China.
"You know, of all the scandals coming out of the White House, this scandal
is perhaps the most disturbing of all," said Rep. Mark Neumann (R-Wisc.)
Democrats say they are disturbed by the politics of it all.
"Is there a single shred of evidence that suggests this president took the
money, knew what he was doing and then said 'send the missiles, send the
satellites to be on the missiles because of the money?' " asked Rep. Robert
Wexler, a Florida Democrat. "Not a single shred of evidence. It's
treasonous, they say, without a single shred of evidence."
Many Democrats are not in love with the idea of a new select committee, but
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt told CNN he would go along reluctantly.
"If this is his [Gingrich's] final decision, we have to cooperate and will
cooperate because we want the investigation to go on," Gephardt said.
Scores of Republicans are sending a letter to Clinton, urging him to cancel
his trip to China next month.
"The president has no business jetting off to Tiananmen Square to attend
ceremonies with China's communist leaders," said Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.)
In the Senate, the matter will be investigated by the existing Intelligence
committee. Senate Republicans are taking a lower key approach than their
White House: No plans to cancel China trip
The latest allegations of Chinese influence-buying come only five weeks
before Clinton's scheduled visit to China, he first such visit by an
American president since the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989.
Despite Republican calls to cancel the trip, the White House says the
president is not even considering that.
"We're going there despite all the differences we have with the People's
Republic to try to work constructively to improve this relationship which is
so important to billions, literally billions of people," said McCurry.
After a slow start, the White House damage control team is taking the
offensive. White House counsel Charles Ruff sent a letter to Republican
leaders Wednesday, insisting Clinton was simply doing what both Presidents
Reagan and Bush had done in allowing U.S. satellites to be launched from
But Republicans charge the Clinton Administration went further, authorizing
Loral Space and Communications to continue such deals even while the Justice
Department was investigating Loral for allegedly supplying China with
embargoed missile guidance systems.
"They knew these communications satellites were one of America's most
sensitive military and intelligence gathering technologies," said Rep. Jim
Gibbons (R-Nev.) "Was there some other issue driving this change? America
deserves to know the answers to these questions."
The allegations could prove more explosive than those involving Whitewater
and Monica Lewinsky.
"I don't think they [the White House] can use the standard procedure of
delay or the standard procedure of attacking their attackers," said Stephen
Hess of the Brookings Institution. "I think they have to deal with this
because this is probably the first charge in the campaign finance deal that
the American people will want, if not demand, an answer to."
Was Pentagon opposition squashed?
Meanwhile, Republican congressional staffers told The Associated Press that
Pentagon staffers who reviewed a Loral export license were kept from voicing
opposition to Clinton's approval of the transfer of satellite technology to
Three Republican congressional staffers, who asked not to be identified,
said more than one worker at the Pentagon's Defense Technology Security
Administration, reported that its head, David Tarbell, told subordinates
before the decision in February that the president had already reached a
conclusion on what to do.
Committee investigators quoted staff at the agency as saying they were
drafting memos in late 1997 and early this year opposing the export license
for Loral but Tarbell told them not to submit their work and to erase draft
Tarbell, a career civil servant, issued a statement denying the allegations.
"I have no recollection of telling anybody on my staff not to oppose the
license or the waiver in this case," Tarbell said. "I had no idea in advance
whether or not the president was going to grant the waiver. Any report that
I asked people to eliminate or destroy documents of any kind on this matter
is absolutely wrong."
A unanimous vote on immunity
In another development, the House voted 402-0 Tuesday night to support
immunity for prosecution from four prospective witnesses for Rep. Burton's
campaign fund-raising inquiry.
The four are associates of Chung, the man at the center of the controversy.
The Democrats later returned Chung's $366,000 in contributions when they
could not confirm the money's source.
The unanimous vote for the non-binding resolution gained the support of
Democrats who said they would not vote to actually grant immunity as long
Burton continued to head the inquiry.
Democrats on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, which
Burton chairs, have blocked the immunity grant to protest what they claim is
Burton's partisanship in running the investigation.
CNN's Pierre Thomas, Wolf Blitzer, Ann Curley and Bob Franken and The
Associated Press contributed to this report.