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February 13, 1997

Probing Chinese Political Contributions

Updated: Feb 13 1997 12:00AM

WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Justice Department is looking into whether the Chinese Embassy was used as a planning center for foreign contributions to the Democratic National Committee. While details of the investigation remain sketchy, a "well-placed" source close to the probe reports that foreign counterintelligence considerations could prompt Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to look into Democratic campaign finance, reports The Washington Post. Reno has previously refused to appoint a counsel, citing the lack of evidence showing wrongdoing among high-level executive branch officials. Although a Chinese Embassy spokesman denies that China ever meddled in overseas contributions to the DNC, electronic eavesdropping on the Embassy has prompted the Justice Department to increase the number of FBI special agents working on the inquiry to 25, and to add a bevy of foreign counterintelligence specialists, the paper reported. The White House, already stung by revelations that sleepovers in Lincoln's bed were regularly doled out to the highest bidder, pleaded ignorance of the Chinese affair. Maybe so, but one at least one wheeler-dealer with established links to the Clinton Administration has already surfaced in the Justice Department's investigation. While working as a Commerce Department official, his desk calendar shows, influential Democratic fund-raiser John Huang met several times with Chinese government officials and also attended a policy breakfast and dinner at the Embassy.

-- Elizabeth Owen

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