Judicial Watch Interim Report to congress, Commercegate Chinagate, Nolanda Hill testimony, Clinton Commerce Dept illegally selling seats for political contributions, Hillary conceived idea, Panetta Podesta Brown Ickes Herman Rosen McAuliffe, September 28, 1998
Judicial Watch Interim Report to congress, Commercegate Chinagate, Nolanda Hill testimony, Clinton Commerce Dept illegally selling seats for political contributions, Hillary conceived idea, Panetta Podesta Brown Ickes Herman Rosen McAuliffe, September 28, 1998
Crimes and Other Offenses Relating to the Illegal Sale of U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Mission Seats for Campaign Contributions that Warrant Impeachment
After the elections of 1994, and the Democrats’ loss of Congress, I became aware, through my discussions with [late Commerce Secretary] Ron [Brown], that the trade missions were being used as a fundraising tool for the upcoming Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and the Democratic Party. Specifically, Ron told me that domestic companies were being solicited to donate large sums of money in exchange for their selection to participate on trade missions of the Commerce Department. Ron expressed to me his displeasure that the purpose of the Commerce trade missions had been and were being perverted at the direction of The White House.
Affidavit of Nolanda Butler Hill, January 17, 1998(131)
****Question: You are aware, however, that Alexis Herman would set up briefing sessions for participants that went on trade missions before they went overseas? You were aware of that?
Nolanda Hill: I was.
Question: And at those briefing sessions appeared the President and Vice President.
Nolanda Hill: I was told that by Secretary Brown.
Question: You’ve mentioned, to some extent – I’ll let your testimony speak for itself – Harold Ickes. Anybody else?…
Nolanda Hill: Ultimately, [Ron Brown] believed that the President of the United States was, at least tangentially.
Nolanda Hill: Yes, sir. It was his re-election that was at stake.
Question: Ron believed that the President of the United States knew the trade missions were being sold and their purpose being perverted?
Nolanda Hill: Yes, sir.Nolanda Butler Hill Court Testimony, March 23, 1998(132)
In the Fall of 1994, Judicial Watch first became aware of evidence that the Clinton Commerce Department was illegally selling seats on its international trade missions in exchange for political contributions.(133) Reports in Business Week and The Wall Street Journal showed that there was a high incidence of Democratic Party contributors on these taxpayer-financed trade missions.(134)
The fact that the President installed the former head of the Democratic National Committee, Ronald H. Brown, as Commerce Secretary also raised concerns about Clinton Commerce Department operations. When Brown brought his entire DNC fundraising staff with him to Clinton Commerce, these suspicions increased.
After Judicial Watch filed requests with the Clinton Commerce Department for information regarding these trade missions under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), it was immediately stonewalled and was forced to file a lawsuit in 1995 to obtain the requested information.(135) Even after filing suit, the Clinton Administration continued to stonewall.(136)
Over the next three (3) years, Judicial Watch, in its efforts to uncover what the Clinton Commerce Department was hiding from the American people, found substantial, compelling evidence that seats on Clinton Commerce Department trade missions were indeed being sold in exchange for campaign contributions, with the knowledge and complicity, if not at the direction of, officials at the highest levels of the Clinton White House, including the President, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. In addition, Judicial Watch’s attempts to uncover the truth were obstructed through perjury, obstruction of justice, intimidation and retaliation that has marred other recent investigation of Clinton scandals, including the Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky matters. In short, the court process was obstructed by Clinton appointees at his Commerce Department and elsewhere by:
� Perjury;� Submission of false sworn declarations;
� Destruction and shredding of evidence;
� Improperly withholding documents contrary to Court orders;
� Threats and intimidation of witnesses and investigators; and
� Misconduct by Clinton Administration lawyers.
Nevertheless, Judicial Watch, through its investigations and the legal discovery process, found “smoking gun” documents detailing the sale the trade mission seats for campaign contributions in the files of the Clinton White House, Clinton Commerce Department, and the DNC, including:
� Memos from the Clinton White House files of Harold Ickes and Alexis Herman showing that the $100,000 DNC Managing Trustee Program included the sale of the Clinton Commerce Department trade mission seats (among other government-financed perks) and was designed to net President Clinton’s DNC political operation $40 million;(137)� A brochure by the Democratic National Committee showing that “foreign trade mission” seats were available for $100,000 contributions to the DNC;(138)
� A list of DNC minority donors found in the files of a key Clinton Commerce Department official;(139)
� A Clinton Commerce Department memo indicating that the DNC donors were input into the Commerce Department government database;(140) and
� A DNC memo showing that the DNC provided the names of donors to the Clinton Commerce Department for trade missions to Russia and Belgium.(141)
In January 1998, Judicial Watch uncovered a witness, Nolanda Butler Hill, a close confidante and business partner of late Commerce Secretary Brown, with whom Secretary Brown had shared key details about the campaign-contributions-for-seats-on-trade-missions scheme, as well as the Clinton Administration’s efforts to stonewall Judicial Watch’s lawsuit. Secretary Brown had even shown important documents to Ms. Hill that detailed this unlawful sale of taxpayer-financed government services. With Ms. Hill’s uncontroverted testimony providing the capstone to its investigation, Judicial Watch has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that not only was the Clinton Administration engaged in an unlawful scheme to sell seats on Commerce Department trade missions in exchange for campaign contributions, but that a criminal cover-up was ordered by President Clinton’s top aides to thwart Judicial Watch’s Court-ordered investigation and to hide the culpability of the President, Mrs. Clinton, the Clinton Administration and the DNC for their use of Commerce Department trade missions as a political fundraising vehicle.Ms. Hill testified that then White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta ordered Commerce Secretary Brown to defy Court orders and obstruct the Judicial Watch suit until after the 1996 federal elections. Ms. Hill’s sworn testimony implicated the President’s top staff members in obstruction of justice.
Ms. Hill also tied the sale of trade mission seats directly to President Clinton. In both a sworn affidavit and Court testimony, Ms. Hill explained that:
� The First Lady conceived of the idea to sell the trade mission seats in exchange for political contributions;
� The President knew of and approved this scheme;� The Vice President participated in this scheme;
� Commerce Secretary Ron Brown helped implement the illegal fundraising operation out of the Clinton Commerce Department;
� Presidential White House aides Harold Ickes and (now Labor Secretary) Alexis Herman helped orchestrate the sale of the Commerce trade mission seats;
� The President’s top fundraisers at the DNC and his re-election campaign (Marvin Rosen and Terrence McAuliffe) helped coordinate the selling of these taxpayer resources in exchange for political contributions;
� Presidential Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta ordered the cover-up of these activities; and
� The President’s appointees at the Commerce Department have committed perjury, destroyed and suppressed evidence, and likely breached our nation’s security.
Even more troubling than the revelations about the unlawful sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions in exchange for campaign contributions, and the criminal cover-up that followed,(142) is evidence of likely national security breaches also uncovered by Judicial Watch’s investigation. From the beginning of Judicial Watch’s investigation, national security issues always were a concern. In fact, Bernard Schwartz of Loral Space and Communications Corporation (“Loral”), a major Clinton donor who had participated in a key 1994 trade mission to China and was quoted in the Business Week and The Wall Street Journal articles that helped pique Judicial Watch’s interest in the trade missions, now stands at the heart of a scandal over Clinton Commerce Department-approved missile technology transfers to China. Documents relating to Schwartz, Loral, and other entities involved in the current China technology transfer scandal were among those requested by Judicial Watch in its first FOIA request to the Clinton Commerce Department. Schwartz went on this key trade mission to China with Secretary Brown shortly after making a $100,000 contribution to the DNC. During the trade mission, Secretary Brown set up an important meeting for Schwartz with a Chinese government official that later led to the missile deals that are now the subject of various national security investigations.In addition, Judicial Watch also uncovered the removal by Ira Sockowitz, an official at the Clinton Commerce Department and confidante of alleged Chinese agent John Huang, of top secret documents relating to satellite encryption and intelligence reports on China, Russia and India. These documents have since been impounded by Court order. Other documents, which have been withheld by the Clinton Commerce Department, indicate that Ron Brown’s Chief of Staff at the Clinton Commerce Department, William Ginsburg, kept allegedly personal diaries detailing “state secrets,” including information on satellite surveillance, intelligence personnel and capabilities, notes of a meeting of the National Security Council, among other “national security” information.(143) He too removed documents from the Department when he left its employ.
The Judicial Watch investigation also uncovered John Huang, the Commerce official/DNC fundraiser now believed to have been a spy for the Chinese Government. To date, Judicial Watch lawyers are the only investigators to have questioned John Huang under oath. Since Judicial Watch deposed Huang in October 1996, it has been learned, largely contrary to his sworn testimony, that Huang:
� Raised money for the DNC while at the Clinton Commerce Department;
� Received over 100 top secret intelligence briefings at Commerce;
� Continued his contacts while at the Clinton Commerce Department with his former employers at the Lippo Group, an Indonesian company that has also been linked to Chinese intelligence;
� While still working at the Clinton Commerce Department, had access to the office of Stephens, Inc., a firm with close ties to the Lippo Group; and
� Maintained contact with the Chinese Government.(144)
According to President Clinton, Huang is a close friend – going back to his governorships in Little Rock.Indeed, any complete understanding of China’s plan to influence the electoral process and spy on American interests must begin with an examination of the operations of President Clinton’s Commerce Department. Many of the key figures associated with the “Chinagate” scandal all had direct connections to it:
John Huang worked for the Clinton Commerce Department, before moving to the DNC.
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, now deceased, organized the Clinton Commerce Department trade missions to China now under scrutiny.
Johnny Chung informally participated in the Clinton Commerce Department trade mission to China in 1994. Chung later admitted to funneling $100,000 from the Chinese military to the DNC.
Bernard Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of Loral, participated in the Clinton Commerce Department trade mission to China in 1994.
Charlie Trie, who was indicted earlier this year on charges that he illegally funneled foreign money to the Democrats, also participated in the 1994 Clinton Commerce Department China trade mission.
Wang Jun, the powerful Chinese communist “princeling” and friend of Clinton fundraiser Charlie Trie, met with Secretary Ron Brown shortly after attending a fundraising coffee with President Clinton. The same day as Wang Jun’s meeting with Secretary Brown, President Clinton signed a controversial waiver allowing Bernard Schwartz’s Loral to work with the Chinese on launching a satellite into space.(145)
James and Mochtar Riady’s Lippo Group, in addition to benefitting from ex-employee John Huang’s placement at Commerce, benefitted directly from deals negotiated by him on Clinton Commerce Department trade missions.
The DNC, the recipient of most of the illegal foreign money, coordinated with the Clinton Commerce Department and White House to sell seats on the taxpayer-financed trade missions.
In short, the crimes at the Clinton Commerce Department were not solely related to the illegal sale of taxpayer-financed trade mission seats in exchange for political contributions, but likely include breaches of national security as well. Key Clinton fundraisers such as John Huang, the Riadys, Charlie Trie, Marvin Rosen and Terry McAuliffe, were able to use the Clinton Commerce Department for the benefit of their overseas patrons, while DNC donors such as Loral’s Bernard Schwartz and Johnny Chung were allowed to use the Clinton Commerce Department trade missions as the means to advance their business dealings with the Chinese government — business dealings that eventually led to the illegal transfer of missile and other high technology to China, and the transfers of hundreds of thousands of illegal dollars from the Chinese Government to the DNC; an obvious quid pro quo.
Congress now has before it other evidence, uncovered by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation, that President Clinton has committed impeachable acts relating to the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit, and other issues that warrant his impeachment and removal from office. President Clinton’s misuse of his Commerce Department for political fundraising and the subsequent cover-up, and the national security breaches that likely resulted from this scheme, provide even more compelling evidence of why he must be impeached, removed from office, and, at the appropriate time, subject to criminal prosecution along with those that aided and abetted him.
II. Judicial Watch’s Investigation Has Uncovered Substantial, Compelling Evidence that Seats on Taxpayer-Financed, Commerce Department Trade Missions Were Sold in Exchange for Campaign Contributions.
During the course of its investigation, Judicial Watch discovered substantial, compelling evidence that the Clinton Administration sold seats on taxpayer-financed Commerce Department trade missions in exchange for campaign contributions to the DNC/1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
At a March 23, 1998 evidentiary hearing in Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit, Ms. Nolanda B. Hill, a close confidante and business partner of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown,(146) testified, under oath, that Secretary Brown told her that he was ordered by the Clinton White House to begin selling Commerce trade mission seats in exchange for political contributions to the DNC/1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.(147) Ms. Hill’s oral testimony confirmed written testimony she had given to Judicial Watch in an affidavit on January 17, 1998:
After the elections of 1994, and the Democrats’ loss of Congress, I became aware, through my discussions with Ron [Brown], that the trade missions were being used as a fundraising tool for the upcoming Clinton-Gore presidential campaign and the Democratic Party. Specifically, Ron told me that domestic companies were being solicited to donate large sums of money in exchange for their selection to participate on trade missions of the Commerce Department. Ron expressed to me his displeasure that the purpose of the Commerce trade missions had been and were being perverted at the direction of The White House.(148)
According to what Secretary Brown told Ms. Hill, the trade mission seats were being sold in part because of “panic” by the President and First Lady induced by their Democratic Party’s loss of Congress to the Republicans in 1994:
[Ron Brown’s] discussion with me centered around the panic of – or his perception of panic – with the President and First Lady, after the loss of Congress to the Republicans, and that that was going to – they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to raise money, and they were really worried about it. (149)
Ms. Hill testified that Secretary Brown told her that it was Hillary Rodham Clinton who ordered that the trade mission seats be sold:
Q: And did he not say to you that – and I am kind of paraphrasing – Hillary believes that every thing is politics and politics is driven by money; correct?A: He did say those — close to those words, as I recall….
Q: And he told that you that, in fact, it was Hillary’s idea to use the trade missions to raise money; correct?
A: He initially believed that she was very instrumental, and he gave her a lot of credit.(150)
Seccretary Brown told Ms. Hill that he was “[j]ust doing my chores for Hillary Rodham Clinton” and he complained, “I’m not a mother” – expletive deleted – “king tour guide for HillaryClinton.”(151)Importantly, Secretary Brown told Hill that the President himself was involved in the sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions:
A: Ultimately he believed that the President of the United States was, at least tangentially.Q: Involved?
A: Yes sir. It was his re-election that was at stake.
Q: Ron believed that the President of the United States knew the trade missions were being sold, and their purpose was being perverted?
A: Yes, sir.(152)
In fact, Ms. Hill testified that Secretary Brown resented the Clinton’s involvement in the misuse of the Commerce Department trade missions, which he believed had become nothing more than a “street level protection racket.”(153)Ms. Hill also testified that, in addition to the President and Mrs. Clinton, high level Clinton Administration officials were also directly involved. The Commerce Department’s Office of Business Liaison, then run by former DNC fundraiser Melissa Moss, worked with the President’s Office of Public Liaison at the White House, then run by Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, to set up White House “briefing sessions” for trade mission participants with either President Clinton or Vice President Gore, or both.(154) Hill also testified that Clinton’s top political aide, former Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes, served as the White House’s “point man” for the sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions:
Q: . . . Harold Ickes was involved in the sale of trade missions, too, wasn’t he?A: It was my understanding through Secretary Brown that Mr. Ickes was the political point man for the White House…. Mr. Ickes, according to what Secretary Brown told me, participated heavily in determining what happened from a political standpoint.(155)
Clinton’s top political fundraisers for the DNC and his re-election campaign, Terry McAuliffe and Marvin Rosen, were also heavily involved in the illegal sale of the trade mission trips, according to what Secretary Brown told Ms. Hill:
Q: And [Terry McAuliffe] was instrumental, based on your discussions with Ron, in working with the White House and coordinating the sale of seats on trade missions; correct?A: He was certainly highly involved, according to Ron.
****Q: And another person who was highly involved from the DNC in coordinating the sale of seats on trade missions for campaign contributions was Marvin Rosen; correct?
A: I understood from Ron that that was correct.
Q: And these people worked with the White House in furthering what Ron thought was a perversion of his trade missions; correct?
A: That’s correct.(156)
Indeed, the sworn testimony of Ms. Hill indicated that donors had to pay the DNC/Clinton-Gore campaign a minimum of $50,000 in order to receive access to government services — Commerce trade mission seats:
In early 1996, Ron showed me a packet of documents, about 1 inch thick, which he removed from his ostrich skin portfolio. Ron told me that these documents had been provided to him from Commerce Department files as part of the collections efforts to produce documents to Judicial Watch in this case. I only reviewed the top five or six documents, which were on Commerce Department letterhead under the signature of Melissa Moss of the Office of Business Liaison. What I reviewed comprised letters of Ms. Moss to trade mission participants, each of which specifically referenced a substantial financial contribution to the Democratic National Committee (DNC). My response was immediate and decisive. I told Ron he must instruct that production of these documents and all responsive documents be immediate and I advised him to mitigate his own damages by releasing Ms. Moss from her duties and admonishing her for using the offices of the Commerce Department for partisan political fundraising.(157)
Ms. Hill testified in open Court that she understood that $50,000 was the minimum “the White House was charging to go on a trade mission . . . .”(158) According to Ms. Hill, Secretary Brown was personally offended that the White House put such a low dollar figure on his trade trips. “I’m worth more than $50,000 a pop,” Secretary Brown told her.(159) A DNC brochure soliciting members for its “Managing Trustee” program shows that participation in “foreign trade missions” was only one of the perks available to a contributor who donated at least $100,000 to the DNC.(160) Documents from the White House files of Harold Ickes and Alexis Herman also clearly show that the $100,000 DNC Managing Trustee Program, which included trade missions, among other taxpayer-financed quid pro quos, was designed to net President Clinton’s DNC political operation $40 million.(161) Importantly, Alexis Herman was listed on the documents as the person to see to purchase a “ticket” on a Clinton Commerce Department trade mission.(162)Additional evidence corroborates Ms. Hill’s testimony that seats on Clinton Commerce Department trade missions were being sold in exchange for contributions to the DNC/1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign. In the course of discovery in its FOIA litigation, Judicial Watch discovered a list of DNC “minority donors” in the possession of the Clinton Commerce Department.(163) Apparently, this list of DNC contributors had been sent by the DNC to the Commerce Department to select participants on trade missions.
Just recently, Judicial Watch discovered additional documents from the DNC that provide further corroboration of Ms. Hill’s testimony. A January 13, 1994 memorandum from DNC official Eric Silden clearly demonstrates the DNC’s direct role in selecting participants for Commerce Department trade missions:
Sally Painter at Commerce called to ask for a list of candidates for a trade mission to Russia. She needs an initial list by tomorrow (Friday 1/14) of 20-30 names. . . . Ari will use the “Belgium trade mission list” as a base of names, to be augmented by additional names that he feels are relevant to Russian trade. It was suggested that he contact Reta Lewis to determine which names on the Belgium list will be included in the delegation, so that they are not also submitted to Commerce for the Russian delegation. . . . Bob will be the point contact with Commerce, as I will not be in the office on Friday afternoon to deliver the list to Sally. (Emphasis added.)(164)
Judicial Watch has subpoenaed similar materials from the DNC, and will depose top DNC officials Terry McAuliffe and Marvin Rosen in the next few weeks. Even without the additional evidence that Judicial Watch is likely to uncover, it is clear that during the Clinton Administration, the Commerce Department has become nothing more than an arm of the DNC, where taxpayer-financed government services can be bought and sold in exchange for campaign contributions. Even the liberal Center for Public Integrity, after examining some of the evidence uncovered by Judicial Watch, concluded this was a “pay to play” scheme:
When Ron Brown was simultaneously a partner at the preeminent Washington law and lobbying firm of Patton, Boggs and Blow and chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), he was renowned as the consummate deal-maker. By all appearances, Brown’s Department of Commerce has continued to apply the art of the deal. As one Justice Department investigator put it, a corporation can “pay to play.” American giants such as AT&T and ARCO, among others, which made contributions to the DNC, have gotten seats on Brown’s plane when he has traveled to far-off lands to meet with foreign governments in an effort to promote American business.The seat on the secretary’s plane can be viewed essentially as the quo in the quid pro quo relationship between contributors and the administration. Those DNC contributors, with Brown’s assistance, were in a position to cut their own deals for projects in those foreign countries whose representatives attended meetings with the U.S. delegation. Some companies came away from the trips with million and sometimes billion dollar deals.
Others came away with expanded business contacts that led to future deals. And others went in search of tax breaks. For example, gas and oil company representatives on the Russia trip argued for a lowering of the excise tax on oil imposed by the Yelstin government. The Texas-based TGV/Diamond Shamrock company came away from the South America trip with a tax break from Argentina worth an estimated $20-$30 million.(165)
In sum, Judicial Watch has uncovered substantial, compelling evidence demonstrating a massive sell-off of taxpayer-financed services – namely seats on Commerce Department trade missions – upon the orders of, and with the direct knowledge and participation, of the President and Mrs. Clinton. This illegal sale of taxpayer-financed services violates several federal statutes against the misappropriation of government funds, bribery and graft, as well as a host of campaign fundraising statutes, including but hardly limited to 18 U.S.C. § 600, et seq.
III. The Cover-Up.Judicial Watch’s attempts to uncover evidence of the unlawful sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions began immediately after Judicial Watch filed its September 12, 1994, September 13, 1994 and October 19, 1994 FOIA requests, which were thwarted at every turn.(166)
After the Clinton Commerce Department received Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests, Melissa Moss, a former DNC fundraiser who became Director of the Department’s Office of Business Liaison, telephoned Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman on October 18, 1994 to try to persuade Judicial Watch to substantially limit the scope of the FOIA request.(167) When Mr. Klayman refused to limit the scope of the request, Moss abruptly ended the conversation, angrily slamming the phone down.(168) The following day, October 19, 1994, Ms. Moss sent Judicial Watch a letter via facsimile falsely claiming that Judicial Watch had, in fact, voluntarily agreed to limit the scope of its FOIA request to a list of trade mission participants.(169) Judicial Watch wrote back to Ms. Moss that same day to correct her false statements.(170) Judicial Watch believes that the likely intent behind Ms. Moss’ false facsimile was to create a false record if litigation ensued.
Moss had more reason to be worried than angry. Ms. Hill would later testify that she reviewed letters from Ms. Moss to trade mission participants, on Department letterhead, detailing the campaign-contribution-for-trade-mission-seat scheme that would be withheld from Judicial Watch in violation of FOIA and in contravention of a federal Court order. According to Ms. Hill, Moss placed that telephone call with Secretary Brown’s knowledge, to try and convince Judicial Watch not to pursue its FOIA requests regarding the trade missions.(171) Moss’ telephone call and false facsimile to Mr. Klayman in 1994 were among the first known efforts by a Clinton Administration official to cover-up the fact that taxpayer-financed government services were being sold in exchange for political contributions. It was far from being the last.
In January 1995, Judicial Watch was forced to file suit in federal district court after the Commerce Department failed to turn over the requested information on trade mission trips pursuant to FOIA.(172) Not coincidentally, the Clinton Commerce Department then tried to create the appearance of complying with the FOIA, and in doing so it cleverly attempted to place Judicial Watch in a “Catch-22.” It required that Judicial Watch pay $13,131 in alleged search and duplication costs in order to obtain the requested documents.(173) As an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, Judicial Watch simply could not afford such an exorbitant fee. Seeing through this ruse, the Court ordered the Clinton Commerce Department to agree to produce responsive documents under a fee waiver, within twenty-four (24) hours.(174)
The Commerce Department then produced some 28,000 pages of documents. Notably absent from this production of documents, however, was any correspondence, notes or memoranda of Secretary Brown, or any documents to or from the White House and/or the DNC concerning trade missions. The failure to produce such documents was inexplicable, if not incredible, and provided prima facie evidence that the Clinton Commerce Department had withheld documents.(175)
At approximately this same time, the Clinton Commerce Department provided Judicial Watch with a Vaughn index of documents allegedly exempt from FOIA.(176) Because of its suspicions that the Clinton Commerce Department had not produced all responsive documents, and because of the Clinton Commerce Department’s previous lack of straightforwardness, Judicial Watch asked the Court to review a portion of the withheld documents in camera. After this in camera review, the Court found that the Clinton Commerce Department’s Vaughn index “fail[ed] in many instances ‘to supply [the Court] with even the minimal information necessary to make a determination’ of whether the documents [were] properly withheld.”(177) Accordingly, the Court directed that a second Vaughn index be prepared and allowed Judicial Watch to begin discovery into the Clinton Commerce Department’s search for responsive documents.(178) After the submission of a revised Vaughn index and a second in camera review, the Court determined that fully one half of the documents that the Clinton Commerce Department was withholding from Judicial Watch were, in whole or in part, improperly claimed as being exempt from FOIA.(179)
Importantly, at that point the Court could have simply ordered the Clinton Commerce Department to conduct a second search for responsive documents. However, given the Clinton Commerce Department’s previous failure to respond and its improper withholding of responsive documents, the Court obviously recognized the futility of a second search. Moreover, given that two (2) years had already passed since Judicial Watch submitted its first FOIA requests, the Clinton Commerce Department would have had substantial opportunity to remove, if not destroy, responsive documents — which, as shown by subsequent discovery, turned out to be the case. Thus, the only true option was to allow discovery into the adequacy of the first search and the whereabouts of other responsive documents. The Court thus permitted Judicial Watch to question Commerce Department officials under oath about their “search” for requested documents.(180)
The discovery process commenced, and Judicial Watch began the investigation that would ultimately expose John Huang and spark the campaign finance and “Chinagate” scandals. President Clinton’s agents grew increasingly worried about Judicial Watch’s lawsuit and increased their efforts to cover-up the sale of trade mission seats. Ms. Hill later testified that:
In the spring of 1995, when this Court ordered production of documents to Judicial Watch, Ron [Brown] became very concerned and he thus began to discuss with me the strategy of handling the defense of the Judicial Watch lawsuit.
****In late fall 1995, after several rulings or statements by this court, Ron himself became more involved in the defense of the case. Specifically, he told me that he had decided to personally review any documents that might be damaging to the Clinton Administration, or in any way be sensitive. Ron told me that he was very worried about the potential damage of the Judicial Watch case to the Clinton Administration.(181) (Emphasis added.)
In fact, Secretary Brown took the extraordinary step of turning over responsibility for responding to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests to the Office of the Secretary. This was confirmed in a telephone conversation with Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman prior to the commencement of the lawsuit. During that phone conversation Brenda Dolan, a Clinton Commerce Department FOIA officer, admitted that Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests had been taken from her and given to the Office of the Secretary. She further admitted that this was a highly unusual occurrence that did not square with usual Department procedures.(182)Secretary Brown personally involved himself in the FOIA process because of his concerns about what the Judicial Watch suit might expose. He also was ordered to do so by the Clinton White House, with whom he stayed in routine contact about the case.(183) As Ms. Hill would later testify in both her January 17, 1998 affidavit and at the March 23, 1998 evidentiary hearing, President Clinton’s two top deputies, then White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, and Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta, directly ordered Brown to defy the Court’s orders and obstruct the Judicial Watch suit until after the 1996 elections:
I further learned through discussions with Ron [Brown] that The White House, through Leon Panetta and John Podesta, had instructed him to delay the case by withholding the production of documents prior to the 1996 elections, and to devise a way not to comply with the court’s orders.(184) (Emphasis added.)
****Q: And that Leon Panetta had told Ron that, quote, “He had the responsibility of containing the Judicial Watch lawsuit”?
Q: And you responded to Ron, did you not, by telling him that that strategy of stall, stall, stall would not work forever?
A: Yes, in part.(185)
Weekly reports sent by Secretary Brown to Chief of Staff Leon Panetta at the Clinton White House confirm Panetta’s involvement, as they discussed the status of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.(186)Ms. Hill would later testify about Mr. Panetta’s and Mr. Podesta’s efforts to obstruct justice and cover-up the sale of trade mission seats for the President’s re-election effort:
Q: And you learned that Leon Panetta and John Podesta had instructed him to delay the case for political reasons?
Q: Now, do you remember Ron saying to you that Panetta and Podesta wanted him to, quote, “slow pedal” the case until after the  elections? Those were the words that were used, was it not?
Q: And that Ron mimicked Leon Panetta and laughed when he used the words “slow pedal”?
A: Well, he did a pretty good Leon Panetta.
A: (Nods head affirmatively.)(187)
Ms. Hill’s testimony indicates that the President was personally aware of this unlawful obstruction. She would later testify that, shortly after she saw Commerce Department correspondence indicating that trade mission seats were being sold in exchange for political contributions, Secretary Brown and the President had a meeting. This meeting occurred just before Brown took his fateful trip to Croatia:(188)
Q: What did he tell you was the reason he went to see the President?A: . . . It concerned the independent counsel investigation.
Q: Ron was also concerned about the situation at the Commerce Department; correct?
A: He was very concerned about the attempt by Congress to shut down the Commerce Department.
Q: And he was also concerned about this lawsuit; correct, Judicial Watch’s lawsuit?
A: He was concerned about it, yes, sir.
Q: And you had actually suggested to him that he go see the President, didn’t you?
A: I suggested to him that that – yes, I did.
Q: And Ron relayed to you — there was a meeting between Ron and the President at that time, Ron told you; did he not?
A: Ron told me that there was.(189)
The evidence thus shows that key White House officials, acting on the likely command of the President himself, ordered Secretary Brown to obstruct the lawsuit and defy Court orders. This obstruction of justice would involve the use of perjury, the destruction of documents and threats and intimidation of witnesses and investigators.
- False Sworn Declarations.
Secretary Brown himself submitted a sworn statement, which Judicial Watch later learned was patently false and misleading. In his March 14, 1996 declaration, Secretary Brown testified:
1. I did not direct, supervise, or otherwise participate in determining, the scope of the Department of Commerce’s search for and/or preparation of response to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests made the basis of this suit. 2. I do not maintain documents responsive to the FOIA requests made the basis of this suit, nor at the time of the FOIA requests did I maintain any such documents.(190)
In reviewing this declaration, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth remarked about its obviously careful wording:
Well, unfortunately, the Secretary died before his deposition, but that statement from the Secretary raises more questions than it answers. . . . He didn’t say there were no such documents or that he never had any such documents . . . which would have been the logical thing to say . . . .(191)
Ms. Hill would later testify that, not only did Secretary Brown maintain responsive documents in his office, but he even showed her clearly responsive documents on Clinton Commerce Department letterhead, under Melissa Moss’ signature, which he kept in an ostrich skin portfolio.(192) These documents have never been produced to Judicial Watch despite Ms. Hill’s advice to Secretary Brown that they be produced immediately,(193) and were likely destroyed after Secretary Brown’s death.(194)Ms. Hill also later testified that Secretary Brown told her that his declaration was purposely misleading:
A: He felt like the wording was truthful, but it was crafted very carefully.
Q: How was it crafted very carefully?A: The words “in determining.” He felt like he could truthfully say that he didn’t determine the scope of the search.
Q: Why was that important?
A: I don’t think I understand.
Q: In other words, he didn’t want to be part – he didn’t want to be implicated in the aspect of actually searching? He didn’t want to have to swear to that; correct?
A: That’s right.
Q: Because of the sensitive nature of some documents, showing the involvement of the White House in selling trade missions?
A: He just didn’t want to be involved.
Q: Dealing with the White House, the sale of trade missions; correct?
A: He didn’t want to be involved with the FOIA issue.
Q: Because of the legal ramifications; correct?
A: He was under investigation by independent counsel.
Q: So the answer is yes?
Secretary Brown carefully crafted a misleading affidavit to the Court and unlawfully withheld responsive documents. He personally showed Ms. Hill “smoking gun” Commerce Department documents under Melissa Moss’ signature detailing the sale of the taxpayer-financed trade mission seats for political contributions to the DNC.(196) He obviously complied with his orders from the White House, and in doing so obstructed justice.In addition, the Clinton Commerce Department touted Anthony Das, the Executive Secretary in the Executive Secretariat of the Office of the Secretary of Commerce, as the person charged with overseeing the search for and production of documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request. In a sworn declaration dated March 10, 1995, Mr. Das testified that, as Executive Secretary, he had “been delegated authority to initially respond to the requests for records of the Executive Secretariat,” and that, upon receipt of such a request, it was the job of the Executive Secretariat to “direct all other Department offices which might have responsive records to conduct searches for records.”(197)
Contrary to his sworn declaration, at his March 27, 1996 and October 9, 1996 depositions, Das made it clear that his role in the search for responsive documents was minimal, if not non-existent. First, Das testified that he never reviewed Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.(198) Das also testified that he never discussed the document search with Secretary Brown, although he had frequent contact with him.(199) He also testified that he didn’t know of anyone searching Secretary Brown’s office.(200) Upon reviewing these obvious inconsistencies between Das’ declaration and his deposition testimony, the Court asked Clinton Justice Department counsel:
Don’t you think it’s rather curious that you would file with me an affidavit from Das saying the Secretary had no records and then admit in his deposition he never asked the Secretary?(201)
Clinton Justice Department lawyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Hegyi, responded that Das somehow knew Brown did not keep records in his office. Thirty-eight (38) subsequent depositions showed no one asked about or searched Secretary Brown’s office for responsive documents.Additional evidence of false, sworn declarations arose when Judicial Watch deposed Mary Ann McFate, Director of the Office of Organization and Management Support at the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (“ITA”). Ms. McFate submitted no less than eight (8) sworn declarations claiming responsibility for the search for and production of responsive documents throughout the Clinton Commerce Department.(202) However, at her October 15, 1996 deposition, Ms. McFate testified that her search for documents was limited solely to the ITA, although the ITA was clearly not the only branch of the Clinton Commerce Department possessing responsive documents.(203) Ms. McFate also testified at her deposition that she was not involved in searching any other bureaus or offices of the Clinton Commerce Department.(204) Accordingly, the declarations of Ms. McFate, submitted by the Clinton Commerce Department’s Office of General Counsel, were clearly false and misleading.(205)
- Destruction of Evidence.
The letters Ms. Hill reviewed, which detailed the unlawful sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions in exchange for campaign contributions, were never turned over to Judicial Watch or the Court.(206) This alone constitutes evidence of obstruction of justice. In addition, however, Ms. Hill testified that Secretary Brown kept documents in his office that were responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request and which the Court had ordered to be produced:
A: I became aware that [late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown] kept documents related to this [Judicial Watch FOIA] lawsuit. He had some in his office . . . .
Q: And what types of documents were they?
A: The ones that I know about were documents relating to Commerce Department activities that had been subpoenaed.Q: And ordered by the Court to be produced?
A: Yes, sir.(207)
Depositions taken by Judicial Watch revealed the likely fate of these and other likely responsive documents that were never produced to Judicial Watch.Although Judicial Watch’s lawsuit seeking production of documents concerning trade missions was pending, and although the Clinton Commerce Department was under a Court order to produce all responsive documents, several witnesses testified about the wholesale shredding of documents in the Office of the Secretary after Brown’s death. In a sworn affidavit volunteered by Mr. Robert Adkins, a former Commerce Department employee who worked with Clinton fundraiser and Commerce Department appointee John Huang, Mr. Adkins testified that there was so much shredding of Clinton White House and DNC documents at the Clinton Commerce Department that the shredder broke. “Among the documents which I personally saw shredded,” Adkins said, “were … documents bearing the logo of the Executive Office of the President as well as documents bearing the logo of the Democratic National Committee.”(208)
Ms. Barbara Schmitz and Ms. Melanie Long, Secretary Brown’s “Executive Assistant” and “Special Assistant,” respectively, both testified at their depositions that documents from Secretary Brown’s office were shredded after his death.(209) Ms. Dalia Traynham, who was in charge of scheduling for Secretary Brown, testified at her deposition that she had been assigned the task of shredding documents after Secretary Brown’s death, even though she previously had never been asked to shred documents.(210) In fact, during an October 18, 1996 hearing, the Clinton Commerce Department was forced to admit that documents from Secretary Brown’s office were shredded without determining whether any of them were responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.(211) In light of the pendency of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit and the existence of a Court order requiring production of all responsive documents, this massive shredding of documents in Secretary Brown’s office after his death constitutes clear evidence of obstruction of justice.
Judicial Watch uncovered further evidence of obstruction of justice as well. In the more than thirty-nine (39) plus depositions taken by Judicial Watch thus far in this case, curiously few individuals in the Clinton Commerce Department admit to having taken any notes concerning trade missions and other relevant and important matters. No one admits to having seen Secretary Brown ever taking any notes.(212) Few notes were ever produced to Judicial Watch in response to its FOIA requests. Ms. Melinda Yee, one of the few witnesses who admitted to having taken notes(213) — who was, in fact, the designated “note-taker” for the trade missions to China and India — admitted that she destroyed her notes from the very important China trade mission.(214)
Yee held several positions in the Clinton Commerce Department, including Director of Policy Development Programs at the ITA, and Senior Adviser to the Chief of Staff. Yee also has been a very important figure in Democratic fundraising activities and was a close confidante of John Huang.(215) Yee also once described herself as a close friend of the Riady family, which, through the Lippo Group, employed Huang before he was appointed to the Clinton Commerce Department.(216)
Yee went on several Clinton Commerce Department trade missions, including one to China in 1994 in which key Commerce Department officials Ira Sockowitz, Ginger Lew, and Jude Kearney also participated.(217) It was on this 1994 trade mission to China that the Clinton Commerce Department advocated a joint-venture project between Entergy Corporation (a large Clinton donor), the Lippo Group (another large Clinton donor), and a Chinese Government-owned electric power company.(218) Campaign fundraising scandal figures Bernard Schwartz, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung, and Tricia Lum also participated in this trade mission.
Importantly, at her deposition, Yee admitted to having taken notes on the China and India trade missions, and other matters.(219) It has also been reported in the press that Yee served as the designated note-taker on these key trade missions. Although Yee appears to be one of the few persons in the Clinton Commerce Department who admitted to having kept notes about the trade missions, at her deposition she was also forced to admit having destroyed these notes, along with other documents.(220)
Not only were these documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests — which had been pending for a substantial period of time when Yee is said to have destroyed them — the federal Court had specifically ordered that the documents be produced.(221) Although Yee claims that she was never informed of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests or the Court’s orders(222) — a claim which is not believable given the substantial publicity surrounding Judicial Watch’s case and her constructive notice of Court orders given her positions at Commerce — she reportedly contacted one of her lawyers, John Tisdale, who is also a law partner of Deputy White House Counsel Bruce Lindsey, one of the President’s closest confidantes, around the same time she says she destroyed her notes.(223) Tellingly, she also said that she was instructed by her attorney not to answer questions about this odd contact with the Lindsey firm at the time of her deposition.(224) Given the clear importance of these documents to this case, as well as to the campaign finance and Chinagate scandal as a whole, their destruction exemplifies clear evidence of obstruction of justice.
C. Concealment of Evidence.
Judicial Watch’s depositions yielded further evidence of obstruction of justice — in the form of concealment of evidence. The existence of key documents – never produced to Judicial Watch and the Court – only became known when witnesses testified about them at deposition. Other key documents were only produced to Judicial Watch when the group learned about them during the discovery process.
Emblematic of the efforts to “slow-pedal,” if not prevent, the production of documents to Judicial Watch, was the deposition of Lesia Thornton, the FOIA officer assigned to the Office of the Secretary at the time of the Judicial Watch FOIA request. At her deposition, Ms. Thornton produced detailed, typed notes — some of which contain multiple entries per day — that she personally kept concerning her involvement in the response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.(225) Ms. Thornton’s notes describe a complete lack of cooperation from Office of Business Liaison Director Melissa Moss, the former DNC fundraiser whose letters detailing the Clinton Commerce Department’s sale of seats on taxpayer-financed trade mission were reviewed by Ms. Hill, but never produced to Judicial Watch. Ms. Thornton’s notes state that Moss, who had worked intimately with Secretary Brown on selecting participants for the trade missions, “made it more than obvious that she just didn’t want to do the [FOIA] request. She said her office has more important things to do.”(226) Ms. Thornton was distressed and frustrated by this conduct: “I have made every effort humanly possible to obtain these documents, however I still do not have them.” Ms. Thornton also noted: “When we were leaving Melissa’s office she made the comment that ‘we are going to try to get this done since [Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch] is threatening to sue’ – Judith [Clinton Commerce Department Counsel Judith Means] then said, ‘If he sues; he sues.'”(227)
Ms. Thornton’s personal notes also make reference to John Ost, who had worked with Melissa Moss in the Office of Business Liaison. At Mr. Ost’s deposition, Judicial Watch learned that he received a facsimile from the DNC listing companies that the DNC was recommending for participation in the trade missions.(228) Mr. Ost testified that he turned this document over to his supervisors to be produced to Judicial Watch.(229) The document, which would have provided further corroboration that trade missions seats were being sold illegally, was never produced to Judicial Watch.
Another key document, the DNC “Minority Donor’s List” found in the files of the Clinton Commerce Department, was produced two years late and only after being “uncovered” by Judicial Watch during a deposition.(230) At his May 27, 1998 deposition, Graham Whatley, an assistant to Deputy Assistant Secretary Jude Kearney at the Clinton Commerce Department, revealed that Kearny kept a list of 139 minority donors in his files.(231) Importantly, it was Kearney who selected the participants for Secretary Brown’s trade missions.(232) At least five (5) of these donors participated in a trade mission to South Africa with Secretary Brown.(233)
Morever, at her deposition Ms. Traynham also testified that her office prepared schedules for Secretary Brown, which included meetings held in Washington to prepare for various trade missions. She also testified that these schedules listed the meetings’ participants, and indicated the subjects to be discussed. Traynham further testified that back-up copies of these schedules were stored on computer.(234) As with other key documents and records, the existence of these materials was also concealed from Judicial Watch. Prior to Traynham’s deposition, Judicial Watch had not received and was given no information about records reflecting Secretary Brown’s schedules. Although these schedules contained information responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests, no such schedules were ever produced to Judicial Watch.
Another top official at the Commerce Department, former Deputy Undersecretary David Rothkopf, took a large stack of documents with him when he left the Department to join Kissinger & Associates. The Court remarked on June 27, 1997 that this was a particularly “unique” way of defeating FOIA regulations.(235)
In response to a deposition subpoena from Judicial Watch, Rothkopf testified that he handed over some documents to the Clinton Justice Department without reviewing them.(236) Without knowing what documents were allegedly given to the Clinton Justice Department, Judicial Watch has been unable to confirm either that the documents were returned to the Commerce Department, or that they were produced to Judicial Watch pursuant to Court orders.
In addition to the perjury committed by Secretary Brown and others in the submission of false declarations to the Court, a host of other Clinton Administration witnesses perjured themselves under oath.
Prominent among these is Melissa Moss, the key Clinton fundraiser at the Commerce Department. Moss falsely testified at her October 10, 1996 deposition that fundraising was not a factor in selecting participants for Commerce Department trade missions, and that she did not conduct fundraising out of the Commerce Department for the DNC.(237) Ms. Hill reviewed Moss’s videotaped deposition testimony and swore in her affidavit that Moss did not tell “the truth in response [to] a number of questions concerning Commerce Department trade missions, as well as other representations she has made under oath.”(238) In addition to having seen letters on Commerce Department stationary under Moss’ signature concerning the sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions,(239) Ms. Hill testified:
Q: Okay. Now, Melissa Moss worked with the White House, based on your discussions with Ron, over the trade missions; correct?
Q: So when she says that trade missions weren’t a factor in terms of getting campaign contributions, that’s false, isn’t it?
Q: When she says that she was not engaging in fundraising, based upon what you know, having seen those documents, that’s false isn’t it?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And when she says that she didn’t know of criteria to choose trade mission participants other than the ones she listed, which she claimed were based on economic considerations, that’s false, isn’t it?
A: Yes, sir.(240)
Further evidence of Moss’ illegal fundraising activities on behalf of the DNC and the President’s re-election campaign(241) came from the files of the Clinton Commerce Department. A series of letters from prospective and actual trade mission participants, and internal memoranda from top Commerce officials show that political contributions were indeed a factor.(242) On April 8, 1994, businessman Ko Saribekian, a participant in the Clinton Commerce Department trade mission to Russia, wrote Secretary Brown to thank him. Obviously referring to the expected political contributions, Saribekian wrote:
Again I thank you and your exceptional team for the opportunity to participate and I look forward to repaying the generosity of Department of Commerce in some way in the months ahead. Melissa and I are keeping in touch about the latter.(243)
It thus seems quite clear that Moss was using the Commerce Department trade missions for political fundraising to benefit President Clinton. It also seems quite clear that Moss continuously lied about this activity and worked to cover it up.It is also beyond dispute that John Huang, the DNC fundraiser and Commerce official now believed by many to be an intelligence agent for the Chinese Government,(244) also perjured himself at his October 29, 1996 deposition. Before moving to the DNC, Huang was Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Economic Policy at the Clinton Commerce Department. At his October 29, 1996 deposition, Huang testified that he was, in effect, little more than a “budget clerk” at the Clinton Commerce Department.(245) Subsequent revelations indicate he was much more. In fact, it is now clear that Huang participated in the planning of Clinton Commerce Department trade missions,(246) and had extensive telephone contacts with Asian and American businesspeople, diplomats and lawyers, many of whom, such as Webster Hubbell and Joe Giroir, had ties to Huang’s former employer, the Lippo Group.(247) Huang also participated in numerous departmental meetings concerning Asia policy,(248) and even received frequent intelligence briefings.(249) These revelations indicate Huang was not “walled-off” while at the Clinton Commerce Department, contrary to the obviously false, public testimony of former Commerce Official Jeffrey Garten before Senator Fred Thompson’s Government Affairs Committee, which investigated some of the various fundraising issues arising from the 1996 federal elections.
In addition, at his deposition Huang testified that he kept virtually no records at the Clinton Commerce Department.(250) Although he was under subpoena, Huang produced no documents at his deposition.(251) He stated that his notes were thrown away, his reports were destroyed, his computer files were erased and copies of his correspondence were not kept.(252) However, subsequent news reports, including a report in the December 30, 1996 edition of The New York Times, portray Huang as a “pack rat” who left the Clinton Commerce Department with and kept “bulging files.”(253) Moreover, at the March 19, 1997 deposition of Huang’s secretary, Ms. Janice Stewart, she admitted that Huang kept detailed desk diaries that documented his activities at the Clinton Commerce Department day-by-day and hour-by-hour.(254) No desk diaries were produced to Judicial Watch until Ms. Stewart made them known more than two (2) years after Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests. When copies of these desk calendars were eventually produced to Judicial Watch, they were illegible in many places and therefore essentially useless. Indeed, to this day, the Public Integrity Section of the Clinton Justice Department, which maintains the originals of Huang’s diaries, has refused to produce them for inspection and copying, despite a Court subpoena requiring their production.(255)
E. Intimidation and Tampering With Witnesses and Investigators.
As it has done to contain its numerous other scandals, the Clinton Administration went to extreme lengths to cover-up the sale of the taxpayer-financed trade mission seats for campaign contributions, even attempting to intimidate and retaliate against witnesses and Judicial Watch itself.
Foremost among these apparent efforts was the indictment of Ms. Hill on fraud and tax evasion charges only a week before she was to testify at the March 23, 1998 evidentiary hearing.(256) When Judicial Watch uncovered Ms. Hill and obtained an affidavit from her in January 1998, the affidavit was presented to the Court. In her affidavit, Ms. Hill testified that she feared retaliation from the Clinton Administration:
I would like to come forward and tell this court everything I know about the failure to produce documents to Judicial Watch and this court. I am concerned, however, that if I do so, the Clinton Administration, and more particularly its Justice Department, will try to retaliate against me. As a result, I look to this court for guidance on how I can come forward and tell all I know in the interest of justice.(257)
Consequently, on February 4, 1998, the Court ordered Ms. Hill’s affidavit be kept under seal, specifically because Ms. Hill was concerned about retaliation.(258) Judicial Watch lawyers argued as well that the affidavit should not be provided to Main Justice by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which was representing the Clinton Commerce Department. On February 13, 1998, Ms. Hill agreed to testify at an evidentiary hearing before the Court on March 23, 1998.(259) After learning about this scheduled hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Hegyi, who represented the Clinton Commerce Department in this matter and already had been sanctioned for other misconduct, apparently provided this information and a copy of Ms. Hill’s affidavit to “Main” Justice, despite the fact that the information was under seal. When Judicial Watch later raised this issue before the Court, Hegyi did not deny it.Between March 10, 1998 and March 13, 1998, Ms. Hill’s legal counsel, Christopher Todd, who also represents President Clinton’s private detective Terry Lenzner, and, apparently, Webster Hubbell’s accountant, was reportedly told by Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and Mary Spearing, Chief of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division of the Clinton Justice Department, or others at “Main” Justice, that “[Holder] is not pleased by Ms. Hill’s involvement with Judicial Watch, and her coming forward in this case.”(260) According to Todd, Holder also told him that Ms. Hill is “persona non grata at the Justice Department.”(261) On March 14, 1998, Ms. Hill was indicted on tax charges,(262) obviously in an attempt to retaliate against her and/or short-circuit her testimony at the upcoming March 23, 1998 evidentiary hearing by forcing her to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Fortunately, however, the Court ordered Ms. Hill to testify in a manner which would not implicate her Fifth Amendment rights.
Tellingly, before her indictment, Ms. Hill had not been formally notified that she was under investigation, which is highly unusual whenever indictments are issued. Furthermore, at Ms. Hill’s arraignment, the Clinton Justice Department admitted that they had not had time to prepare an inventory of evidence against Ms. Hill, indicating that the charges were hurriedly prepared.(263) And, after Ms. Hill testified at the March 23, 1998 evidentiary hearing, the Clinton Justice Department re-indicted her, purportedly to correct typographical errors in the original indictment. Clearly, this re-indictment was nothing more than another warning against further cooperation with Judicial Watch and the Court.
Clinton Commerce Department personnel were also subjected to intimidation and retaliation. Graham Whatley, the career civil servant who revealed the existence of the DNC “Minority Donors List” in the files of top Commerce official Jude Kearney, was promptly fired by the Clinton Administration after his deposition.(264)
Ms. Christine Sopko served as Kearney’s secretary. Ms. Sopko testified that she had turned over the DNC “Minority Donors List” to Clinton Commerce Department and Clinton Justice Department lawyers at least three (3) months before Mr. Whatley’s deposition. Sopko, a non-political career employee, broke down in tears as she testified about being afraid of losing her job.(265) She also testified that she believed Whatley had been fired for revealing the existence of this DNC document.(266)
An attempt was even made to intimidate and coerce Judicial Watch’s General Counsel, Larry Klayman, into agreeing to a settlement of the case, in an obvious attempt to cover-up the scandal. In April 1997, Judicial Watch was the first to depose Mr. John Dickerson, the CIA officer who regularly briefed John Huang at the Commerce Department. Because of the potentially sensitive nature of the deposition, it was to take place at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC rather than at Judicial Watch’s offices. However, the Clinton Administration made no efforts to conceal Dickerson from the public. (Indeed, it had already lifted his “cover.”) Dickerson, AUSA Hegyi and other CIA, Clinton Justice Department and Clinton Commerce Department personnel used public entrances and exits to the Courthouse, and had lunch together in the Courthouse’s public cafeteria, where members of the press frequently congregate. The Clinton Administration later claimed that Dickerson was videotaped by a news crew as he left an admittedly public exit from the Courthouse later that day.
Apparently upon returning to his office, AUSA Hegyi and his supervisor, Deputy Chief John Oliver Birch, telephoned Mr. Klayman’s office. In grave, menacing tones, they informed Mr. Klayman about what had allegedly transpired, alleging that he had blown the cover of a CIA operative, and then placed a call to the Court. After this initial conversation with the Court, Mr. Klayman called the Court and offered to make himself available for an immediate in camera conference in order to support any steps necessary to remedy the alleged videotaping. During the ensuing conference on the evening of April 4, 1997, Mr. Klayman advised the Court of a routine press inquiry about when and where the Dickerson deposition would take place:
I was asked by the press, in response to their knowledge that I was taking Mr. Dickerson’s deposition, whether they could have a copy of the video. And I said no; that its going to be transcribed and that Your Honor would have to have an opportunity to review it, and only then would it be releasable. . . . I did tell them that it was being held in camera at the courtroom . . . .(267)
Mr. Klayman also stated that it was not his understanding that information about the date and place of the deposition had been sealed by the Court, and that he would support any effort by the Clinton Administration, through the Court, to obtain the alleged videotape of Dickerson:
. . . But technically speaking . . . Your Honor did not seal or order confidential where it was taking place or the date. And I am here to try to facilitate anything that I can do to help in this matter, not here to cover my own rear end, for lack of a better word on the court record, because I feel strongly about this as everybody else.(268)
In what was clearly a threat of criminal prosecution, Deputy Chief Birch responded by invoking the spector of the “Pentagon Pagers” case, adding pointedly:
. . . [I]t may be that it would be appropriate for me to relate to the Court the position of the United States Attorney’s Office, what we perceive to be our options right now for purposes of both the Court and for purposes of unilaterally, the Government.(269)
(Emphasis added). The Court adjourned the conference without taking any further action.(270)Immediately upon leaving the conference room, AUSA Hegyi and Deputy Chief Birch approached Mr. Klayman and another Judicial Watch attorney who had attended both the Dickerson deposition and the April 4, 1997 hearing. In what can only be viewed as a coercive attempt to force settlement, he asked whether Judicial Watch would now agree to submit the case to a “settlement judge” (i.e., a judge other than Judge Lamberth). On April 7, 1997, Judicial Watch filed a pleading with the Court to record these same events.(271) This improper attempt to coerce a settlement from Judicial Watch constitutes a clear violation of Rule 8.4(g) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct, which prevents the threat of criminal charges to gain an advantage in civil litigation.(272) In addition, it also constitutes a clear abuse of power by the Clinton Administration. Later, the Clinton Administration filed pleadings to have Mr. Klayman held in criminal contempt, and then criminally prosecuted. The Court summarily denied the request.(273)
Even Secretary Ron Brown was fearful of crossing the Clinton White House. Ms. Hill testified that one of the reasons Secretary Brown did not want to turn over incriminating documents to Judicial Watch was because he needed the support of the Clinton White House as he faced his own Independent Counsel investigation:
A: [Secretary Brown] was concerned about the independent counsel investigation that he was under, and the potential for how he was going to – not the potential, but the catch 22, because he didn’t want to be put in the position that he was in, of appearing to be non-responsive, while at the same time he felt the support of the White House during the pendency of the independent counsel investigation.
Q: So he was concerned that he needed the support on the independent counsel side, and the White House needed his support with regard to the sale of trade missions and exposing that; correct?
A: (No response.)
Q: In other words, he was between a rock and a hard place. He didn’t want to have to turn the White House in for selling trade missions?
A: He didn’t want to do anything that would rock the boat.
Q: So the answer is yes?
A: I think the answer is what I said. He didn’t want to do anything that would rock the boat –
Q: With the White House?
A: — with the White House.
Q: With the White House?
Indeed, it was about his own independent counsel investigation, and the “catch-22” he was in over the illegal sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions and cover-up, that he went to see President Clinton shortly before he was killed.(275)
F. Misconduct By Clinton Commerce Department Counsel.
In addition to false declarations, destruction of evidence, concealment of evidence, perjury and attempted intimidation of and retaliation against key witnesses, and even Judicial Watch itself, the Clinton Administration has misused government lawyers to cover-up its unlawful conduct. It is very important to understand the obstructionist role lawyers in the Clinton Commerce Department’s Office of General Counsel (“OGC”) played in impeding the flow of Judicial Watch’s investigation, and in thwarting the Court’s orders — conduct which is contrary to their obligations as public servants, and contrary to their obligations as officers of the Court and members of the bar.
Several key lawyers for the Clinton Commerce Department admitted to playing significant roles in “responding” to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests. These lawyers include: Barbara Fredericks, Judith Means and Elise Packard. All were deposed by Judicial Watch in early 1997. The depositions of these OGC lawyers demonstrate that they: (1) gave advice on responding to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests; (2) examined documents; (3) prepared the Clinton Commerce Department’s Vaughn indexes, which contained numerous, spurious claims of exemption and attorney-client privilege; (4) prepared sworn declarations submitted to the Court; (5) prepared witnesses for deposition; and (6) attended depositions in this case, often disrupting the process.(276)
Importantly, in her January 18, 1998 affidavit and at the March 23, 1998 evidentiary hearing, Ms. Hill testified that Barbara Fredericks helped to draft the false and misleading declaration of Secretary Brown.(277) The declaration Fredericks helped to draft was carefully worded to avoid Secretary Brown having to acknowledge any involvement in the search for documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.(278) It also falsely asserted that Secretary Brown did not “maintain documents responsive to the FOIA requests made the basis of [Judicial Watch’s] suit, nor at the time of the FOIA requests did [Secretary Brown] maintain any such documents.”(279) In fact, Ms. Hill testified that not only did Secretary Brown maintain documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests in his office, he had even showed her responsive documents on Commerce Department letterhead and under Melissa Moss’ signature that he kept in an ostrich skin portfolio.(280)
The evidence also reveals that Judith Means was intimately involved in providing the Clinton Commerce Department’s response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.(281) Means testified that she met with John Ost and his supervisor to answer questions about withholding documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests under claim of exemption.(282) Ost would later testify that he provided his supervisor with a facsimile from the DNC to the Commerce Department listing companies that the DNC was recommending for participation in trade missions.(283) In addition, Means also testified that she met with Melissa Moss, who had signed the letters Secretary Brown showed to Ms. Hill concerning the sale of seats on trade missions.(284) However, at her deposition, Means failed to produce her notes of these meetings.(285) Neither the facsimile from the DNC Ost provided to his supervisor nor the Moss’ letters have ever been provided to Judicial Watch.(286) Obviously, Means’ notes of her meetings with Ost, Ost’s supervisor and Moss might shed light on the disappearance of these crucial pieces of evidence.
The testimony in Judicial Watch’s case also shows that OGC lawyers knew about the DNC “Minority Donors List” long before its existence was revealed by Graham Whatley.(287) Indeed, Christine Sopko testified that she turned over this list of 139 contributors to the DNC to her superiors months earlier.(288) A number of donors on the list, which included bankers, union officials, and corporate executives, attended a trade mission to South Africa with Secretary Brown in November 1993. The list thus constitutes further prima facie evidence that the Clinton Commerce Department was doing political fundraising by selling seats on the taxpayer-financed trade missions. OGC lawyers also reviewed the now-missing documents previously maintained in Secretary Brown’s office.(289)
When confronted with evidence of obstruction and unlawful conduct by Commerce Department officials – such as the shredding of documents in Secretary Brown’s office,(290) the destruction of documents by Melinda Yee,(291) and the removal of classified, national security documents by Ira Sockowitz(292) – Clinton Commerce Department lawyers testified that, in effect, they did nothing.
The issue of the adequacy of the Clinton Commerce Department’s search for computer files has also assumed a central role in this case. Court orders dated December 6, 1996 and February 13, 1997 charged the Clinton Commerce Department’s OGC with the specific responsibility of searching for and producing computer files responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests. Yet, OGC not only failed in its responsibilities to supervise the search for responsive computer files throughout the agency,(293) it also failed to search even its own computers, even though the existence and location of these records was well known.(294)
As General Counsel to the Clinton Commerce Department, Ginger Lew was the ultimate supervisor of all the attorneys who participated in the Department’s response to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests. She was also a confidante of John Huang and very active in Asian-American politics. Lew later left the Clinton Commerce Department to become Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) under Erskine Bowles, who is now White House Chief of Staff. Lew was instrumental in having her special assistant at OGC, Ira Sockowitz, join her at the SBA.(295)
Like John Huang before her, Lew went to great lengths to avoid being deposed, and to avoid producing subpoenaed documents. She and her counsel initially sought to avoid service of a subpoena, then attempted to “voluntarily” appear for the deposition at Judicial Watch’s offices so as to avoid having to produce documents. The gamesmanship then escalated.
When Judicial Watch was forced to postpone Lew’s deposition because of the evasive tactics it had encountered in attempting to serve its deposition subpoena, Lew’s counsel and counsel for the Clinton Justice Department then conducted an unauthorized and essentially unlawful deposition of Lew and a court reporter to elicit false and misleading testimony. The Court would later rebuke counsel for Lew and the Clinton Justice Department saying, “[W]hat you’re just giving him and waiving around today is a purported transcript of a deposition that is totally unauthorized.”(296) The Court also rebuked Ms. Lew for refusing to accept Judicial Watch’s subpoena:
Why would a person like Ms. Lew, who is a lawyer, not just say to her lawyer, “Accept the subpoena. Don’t go play all these games and have people chasing all over town looking for me to serve me?” Why would a lawyer do that? I don’t understand that.(297)
Ultimately, Judicial Watch was able to at least begin its deposition of Lew on March 12, 1997. This deposition demonstrates that Lew is an astute political operative.(298) It is also clear from her demeanor during the deposition that Lew was not being candid. She has still failed to produce the requested documents, and, in the middle of the deposition, she, the Clinton Justice Department counsel, and Lew’s counsel all arbitrarily walked out of the court proceeding, without authorization from the Court. The obstruction Lew committed and condoned further substantiates and corroborates the other evidence and testimony that there was a desperate effort on the part of Secretary Brown, under orders and pressure from the President’s top political aides, to cover-up the fact that taxpayer-financed trade missions were being used as a fundraising tool for President Clinton’s re-election, and other political needs. It is important to remember that Lew was the Clinton Administration’s lead lawyer at Commerce.The testimony of these lawyers also shows that they directly obstructed the public’s right to know about the operations of its government pursuant to FOIA. Incredibly, OGC lawyers directly obstructed court processes by participating in the drafting of false declarations, the misapplication — with an error rate found by the Court of least fifty percent (50%) — of exemptions from disclosure under FOIA,(299) the invocation of spurious claims of attorney-client privilege, and the failure to disclose documents in their custody or control (e.g., the “Minority Donors List”). None of them felt a duty to investigate acts of wrongdoing by others in the Clinton Commerce Department, such as the destruction by Melinda Yee of her notes and other documents, the removal of classified documents by Ira Sockowitz, and the disappearance of documents from Secretary Brown’s office. In fact, according to them, they did not even have an obligation to report this evidence of obstruction of justice to the Clinton Commerce Department’s Inspector General, the Department of Justice, or the Court.
In light of the role of attorneys to uphold the law, the conduct of OGC lawyers has been most troubling. While one OGC attorney, Gordon Fields, acknowledged that government lawyers have an obligation to the American people and not just the Administration or department which they serve,(300) the conduct of the OGC lawyers in this matter demonstrates anything but such a obligation. In fact, the conduct of the OGC lawyers in this matter, obviously under orders from supervisors acting on behalf of the Clinton Administration, amount to obstruction of justice.
G. Clinton Justice Department Complicity.
This is the Justice Department. And so I cannot imagine a more seriously jeopardizing situation for Ms. Hill to be in at this point in time.
Stephen Charles, Ms. Hill’s lawyer, just prior to her court testimony on March 23, 1998.(301)
Throughout this case, it has not only been the Clinton Commerce Department and its lawyers that have attempted to thwart Judicial Watch’s efforts to obtain documents responsive to its FOIA requests. The Clinton Commerce Department has enjoyed the apparent approval and complicity of the Clinton Justice Department as well.For example, in a February 24, 1997 article asking “How Honest Is Justice’s Probe?” Investor’s Business Daily noted that the Clinton Justice Department is defending some of the very same Clinton Commerce Department officials it is supposedly investigating for illegal fundraising.(302) Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, who admittedly owed his former position as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in part to Secretary Brown, who admittedly recommended him,(303) and who obviously owes his current position to President Clinton,(304) publicly announced on NBC’s Meet the Press that he was “intimately involved” in the Chinagate probe.(305) In early 1997, however, Holder tried to shut down Judicial Watch’s lawsuit. “[This lawsuit] is not about whether in fact Secretary Brown ‘sold seats on trade missions to big contributors to the Democratic Party’�,” Holder wrote in filing a motion with the Court.(306) Holder’s inherent conflict-of-interest only adds to the already substantial conflict-of- interest of the Clinton Justice Department.
The end result has been the lack of any serious investigation by the Clinton Justice Department.(307) While Attorney General Janet Reno claims to be conducting an investigation of the campaign finance scandal that will leave “no stone . . . unturned,”(308) depositions taken in this case demonstrate the contrary. About a year after the scandal exploded, in the summer of 1997, discovery confirmed that neither the Clinton Justice Department nor the FBI had called one Clinton Commerce Department official before the grand jury. Not even Huang’s secretary, Janice Stewart, had been interviewed by the Clinton Justice Department or the FBI.(309) Likewise, Ginger Lew, the supervisor of Ira Sockowitz at both the Clinton Commerce Department and the SBA, had not been interviewed either.(310) Nor have many others.(311)
In addition to the telling lack of any meaningful investigation by the obviously conflicted Clinton Justice Department, the conduct of Clinton Justice Department lawyers in Judicial Watch’s case has been marked by a pattern of litigation misconduct and abuse, including outright suppression of evidence. For example, Clinton Justice Department counsel unilaterally terminated the depositions of Anthony Das and Ginger Lew. With regard to the Das deposition, the Court had granted Judicial Watch the right to subpoena documents from Das prior to his being deposed.(312) Yet, when Das appeared for his deposition, he produced no documents. Bruce Hegyi, the Clinton Justice Department lawyer defending the deposition, unilaterally declared that Das had no obligation to produce the subpoenaed documents, then Das, Hegyi and the OGC lawyers attending the deposition walked out!(313) The Court ultimately issued sanctions for this outrageous misconduct.(314) Similarly, after engaging in substantial “gamesmanship” prior to her actual deposition, Lew also failed to produce subpoenaed documents when she was finally deposed. Then, in the middle of the deposition, she, Hegyi, OGC counsel and Lew’s counsel all arbitrarily walked out again, without any authorization from the Court. Motions are pending before the Court to sanction this additional misconduct at Lew’s deposition.(315)
In addition, the Court has repeatedly criticized Clinton Justice Department counsel for improper use of “speaking objections” during depositions, which have had the obviously intended effect of tipping-off witnesses about how to respond to Judicial Watch’s questioning. This grossly improper misconduct has been repeated in deposition after deposition.(316) During a June 27, 1997 hearing, the Court, responding to the Clinton Justice Department’s rationalizations for its improper conduct, went to the heart of the matter:
[T]he one thing that just leaps out at me is that in a case in which the government is being accused of [a] cover-up, and, in which I have suggested that government counsel should take certain actions not to suggest answers to witnesses, I don’t understand this whole approach that you continue to take in your brief about, “Well, we can always try to clarify ambiguous questions, and, therefore �” I mean, you’re going to be constantly accused of tipping off witnesses and suggesting answers to witnesses by putting your head in the sand with that kind of approach. That’s why I said to the government that you need to reexamine your approach. I just don’t understand it.”(317)
Clinton Justice Department counsel was admonished again for using these blatantly obstructionist tactics during a number of depositions.(318)The Clinton Justice Department also has made repeated, material misrepresentations of fact. To cite just a few of the more significant examples, when Judicial Watch took the deposition of John Dickerson, who briefed John Huang on intelligence matters, the Clinton Justice Department represented that Huang had received 37 intelligence briefings. However, it was later reported in the press that Huang actually had received as many as 109 briefings.(319)
Likewise, the Clinton Justice Department represented that the office of Melinda Yee – the official note-taker on Commerce Department trade missions who later admitted to having destroyed all of her notes despite the fact that the Court had ordered them to be produced to Judicial Watch – was searched by Dawn Evans Cromer, Carola McGiffert and Beth Bergere.(320) When Judicial Watch deposed these individuals, however, it became clear that they had never been assigned to conduct any such search, had not conducted any such search, and did not even know that their names had been given to the Court as the individuals who conducted a search of Ms. Yee’s office.(321)
Moreover, the Clinton Commerce and Justice Departments also were involved in suppressing the crucial DNC “Minority Donors List” for months before Judicial Watch learned of its existence at the May 28, 1997 deposition of Graham Whatley. Clinton Justice Department counsel made repeated false representations that they were “surprised” by this revelation.(322)
The lies by Clinton Administration officials continued. During his June 13, 1997 Senate confirmation hearing for the post of Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Attorney Eric Holder testified that he had no involvement in this case and had not signed any pleadings or memoranda.(323) While a cursory review of the court file shows the contrary, taken at face value, Holder’s testimony likely means that this case – which has paramount political and national security ramifications – is being run by “Main” Justice – and out of the Attorney General’s office.
This is a massive conflict-of-interest. According to a memorandum recently produced in another Judicial Watch anti-corruption case, the DNC requested Attorney General Reno’s assistance in raising $40 million for the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.(324) Thus, it appears Attorney General Reno herself is most likely involved in the Clinton campaign fundraising scandal.
In light of this memorandum, and Attorney General Reno’s refusal to appoint an Independent Counsel despite overwhelming evidence of criminal misconduct on the part of Clinton Administration officials, and her Department’s obvious conflict of interest, it would certainly appear that the litigation misconduct in this case is attributable to partisan political loyalties to the Clinton Administration.
IV. Clinton’s Fundraising Push Likely Resulted in Breaches of National Security.
As Judicial Watch uncovered evidence that seats on Clinton Commerce Department trade missions were being sold in exchange for campaign contributions, it also uncovered alarming evidence about likely breaches of national security. In the four (4) years that Judicial Watch has investigated this unlawful sale of taxpayer-financed, government services, it also discovered John Huang, the removal by Ira Sockowitz, a confidante of both Huang and Ginger Lew, of classified, national security documents from a Commerce Department safe, the removal of national security information by Secretary Brown’s Chief of Staff, William Ginsburg, curious links between former Clinton Commerce appointees and Iridium World Communications, Ltd., and more. Although Judicial Watch is only at an interim stage in its investigation of these sensitive issues, the potential national security breaches already discovered raise ominous questions about further unlawful conduct by the President and his Administration.
A. John Huang, Accused Spy, Had A Role in Commerce Trade Missions and Other Clinton Fundraising Schemes.
While investigating the sale of taxpayer-financed trade mission seats by the Clinton Commerce Department, Judicial Watch uncovered John Huang, the Clinton fundraiser/Commerce operative believed by many to be an agent for the Chinese Government.(325) To date, only Judicial Watch has deposed Huang under oath.(326) This deposition uncovered Huang’s lies and sparked the Clinton controversy called “Chinagate.” Not surprisingly, the Clinton Administration and its allies at the DNC did their best to prevent Huang from testifying under oath, and Huang himself went into hiding from federal agents trying to serve him with a deposition subpoena.(327) In attempting to learn of Huang’s whereabouts, DNC officials later lied to the Court.(329)
Indeed, Judicial Watch has learned that, not only was Secretary Brown ordered by the White House to sell seats on Commerce Department trade missions, but he was also forced to hire Huang. Ms. Hill testified that Mrs. Clinton was involved in Huang’s placement at the Clinton Commerce Department:
Q: And he told you, Secretary Brown, did he not, that John Huang was forced into the Commerce Department by the Hillary Rodham Clinton Arkansas group at the White House? He told you that, didn’t he?
A: Yes, sir.(330)
Indeed, as we now know, Huang was the “top priority for placement” in the new Clinton Administration by the Lippo Group, the Jakarta-based business conglomerate that has substantial dealings and joint operations with the Chinese Government, and is headed by the Riady family.(331) James and Mochtar Riady have been longtime friends and strong financial supporters of the Clintons dating back to when President Clinton was the Governor of Arkansas. Mochtar and James Riady are believed by U.S. authorities to “have had a long-term relationship with a Chinese intelligence agency.”(332) Before being placed at Commerce, Huang was the top U.S. executive for Lippo, and “the political power that advise[d] the Riady family on issues and where to make contributions.”(333)In fact, it is now clear that Huang participated in the planning of Clinton Commerce Department trade missions,(334) and had extensive telephone contacts with Asian and American businesspeople, diplomats, lawyers, and fundraisers, many of whom, such as Webster Hubbell and Joe Giroir, had ties to Huang’s former employer, the Lippo Group.(335) In February 1997, The Washington Times reported that “[t]elephone records show that while at Commerce, he made and received dozens of calls from Lippo lobbyists and executives while he worked on sensitive trade missions.”(336)
Huang also participated in departmental meetings on Asia policy(337) and, astonishingly, received more than a hundred CIA intelligence briefings, many on matters related to areas that his old employers at the Lippo Group would have an interest.(338) While working for the Clinton Commerce Department Huang made “more than 400 telephone calls . . . to Lippo and some
of its business representatives. . . .”(339) Huang also made a number of visits, while supposedly working for the Clinton Commerce Department, to the offices of Stephens, Inc., a firm that had close ties to the Lippo Group. Paula V. Greene, a former secretary for Stephens Inc., testified before Senator Fred Thompson’s fundraising investigation that:
Huang had unrestricted use of the telephone, copier and fax machine in the spare office when he stopped by “sometimes two, three times a week, perhaps not every week,” she said. But Ms. Greene said she did not know whom he called or whether Huang transmitted any faxes.(340)
The Clinton Administration gave Huang access to top-secret information apparently without even conducting an overseas background check on him.(341) Moreover, press reports indicate that Huang “held top-secret clearances for three years, although he worked at Commerce for only 18 months,” and “initially was issued a top-secret clearance in January 1994, five months before he resigned as a top executive at the . . . Lippo Group.”(342) Electronic intercepts have also apparently confirmed that, at a minimum, he committed economic espionage by passing government secrets to the Lippo Group.(343) Indeed, some believe he may have endangered the lives of U.S. intelligence agents.(344) The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward reported on November 14, 1997, that the FBI had uncovered “reports considered reliable but unconfirmed that Huang, while serving as a senior Commerce Department official in the Clinton administration, passed a classified document to the Chinese government.”(345)Coupled with the risk of this Clinton-appointee’s activities to national security, was his illegal fundraising at the Clinton Commerce Department. Huang testified at his deposition that he had little contact with the DNC and the Clinton White House while at the Clinton Commerce Department.(346) In fact, he was in regular contact with top Democratic fundraisers, and often supplied them with names of prospective donors in the Asian-American community, and was the “king-maker” for Asian-American political appointments in the Clinton Administration.(347) The DNC even credited him for raising money while working at the Clinton Commerce Department.(348)
Also, contrary to his Judicial Watch testimony, Huang was a frequent White House visitor and often talked with key White House officials, including President Clinton. According to logs kept by the Secret Service, Huang made at least 78 visits to the White House beginning July 1, 1995, at least a dozen of which were while he was working at the Commerce Department.(349) He was also in regular contact with top Democratic fundraisers, and often supplied them with names of prospective donors in the Asian-American community.(350) Indeed, President Clinton personally lobbied on Huang’s behalf to ensure that he would be placed in a high-level DNC fundraising post after leaving Commerce.(351)
Despite Huang’s false and misleading testimony in the Judicial Watch lawsuit, and his unlawful fundraising activities,(352) the Clinton Justice Department has yet to prosecute, much less interview him. In fact, Judicial Watch has seen first-hand the Justice Department’s complicity in covering-up these offenses. Just one among many examples — the Clinton Justice Department’s Criminal Division Chief until recently was John Keeney. Keeney’s son is one of Huang’s personal lawyers, and represented Huang during his Judicial Watch deposition.(353) Huang only surfaced because of the relentless due diligence of Judicial Watch — and only after a nationwide manhunt in which he temporarily evaded service of a court subpoena with the cooperation of the White House and the DNC.(354)
A final, important note. By testifying nearly two years ago in Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against the Clinton Commerce Department, Huang waived any Fifth Amendment rights he may have been able to assert. Thus, Huang cannot now “take the Fifth.” Judicial Watch has moved the Court to continue Huang’s deposition.
B. Ira Sockowitz, Special Assistant at Commerce, Misappropriated
Government Secrets on Encryption and Satellite Technology
and Likely Harmed National Security.
In addition to the sale of seats on trade missions and the mysterious operations of John Huang at the Commerce Department, in 1996 the Clinton Administration abruptly gave Commerce the power to control exports of sensitive technology to China. This came as a shock to many experts because it is generally believed that, unlike the State Department, which served as the technology gatekeeper in the past, the Commerce Department is not equipped to properly guard against national security breaches. In fact, according to a top defense expert in the Bush Administration, “[i]t was tantamount to a complete overthrow of the old export-control regime.”(355)
Even more shocking was that such a transfer of power would be authorized by President Clinton when the Commerce Department could not even control breaches of security within its own building. Thanks to an anonymous tip in October 1996, shortly after authority for export controls on technology was shifted to the Commerce Department, Judicial Watch discovered that Ira Sockowitz, a former Special Assistant in the Commerce Department’s Office of General Counsel, removed 136 files containing classified satellite encryption data from a safe in his former office after he had had left OGC to work at the Small Business Administration.(356) Sockowitz had worked at OGC under Ginger Lew, a confidante of John Huang, then joined Lew at the SBA after she left OGC for that agency. Sockowitz’ replacement at OGC, Jeffrey May, allowed Sockowitz unsupervised access to the safe in his former office, apparently allowing Sockowitz to remove the classified satellite encryption data.(357)
The sensitivity of this information is immeasurable — encryption data are used by U.S. intelligence to keep instructions sent to communication satellites, including instructions for nuclear missiles, secret.(358)Undoubtedly, the documents Sockowitz took with him contained information extremely vital to U.S. national security — and likewise invaluable to rival nations. Despite this alarming security breach, the Clinton Justice Department decided in a matter of only weeks without any real investigation, that there was no case against Sockowitz. It came to this astonishing conclusion without even questioning Lew or his replacement at OGC, Jeffrey May.(359) In pursuing its own case against the Clinton Commerce Department, Judicial Watch may have uncovered how these secret files were used. Both Sockowitz and Lew were involved in the process of selecting participants for trade missions.(360) In fact, Sockowitz was put in charge of screening companies seeking to participate in trade missions. One such mission was the now-controversial 1994 trade mission to China during which Loral’s Bernard Schwartz began a business relationship with a Chinese government official that would ultimately lead to U.S. satellites being launched on Chinese rockets and the possibly unlawful transfer of missile technology to the Chinese.
At his deposition in Judicial Watch’s lawsuit, Sockowitz admitted that he kept classified materials, as well as documents concerning trade missions, in the safe in his Commerce Department office at OGC.(361) Sockowitz also admitted that he took some of these documents from the Clinton Commerce Department – including documents that were responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests – and stored them in another safe at the SBA.(362) Lew, Sockowitz’s boss, testified that she knew of no reason why Sockowitz would have taken these documents with him, because they would be of no value to anyone at the SBA.(363)
On November 5, 1996, the Court ordered that Sockowitz’s safe at SBA, which already had been taken into custody by special agents from the SBA’s Office of Inspector General (“IG”),(364) was to be inventoried by Commerce Department officials no later than November 13, 1996. The Court also ordered that Sockowitz’s safe and computer at the Commerce Department remain in the custody of the Commerce Department IG, pending further order from the Court. The resulting inventory of Sockowitz’s safe at SBA revealed that not only did it contain documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests, but also highly sensitive, classified national security intelligence data on China, Russia and India, as well as the highly sensitive satellite encryption and telecommunications data previously mentioned.(365) Some of these materials were ultimately turned over to the Central Intelligence Agency. When another organization sought access to some of these same documents through FOIA, both the Commerce Department and the National Security Agency stated, in sworn affidavits, that the release of these documents “could harm national security.”(366)
According to Nolanda Hill, Secretary Brown was also worried about Sockowitz’ activities at the Commerce Department:
Q: And I believe you told me that Ira [Sockowitz] funneled information to others, that Ron was aware of that?
A: I don’t believe I used those words.
Q: What words did you use?
A: He – Ron – Secretary Brown was concerned that that might be happening.(367)
Additional questioning of Hill, and the later deposition of Lauri Fitz-Pegado, another close confidante of Secretary Brown who traveled with him on nearly every trade mission, and the Commerce Department’s Director of the Foreign Commercial Service, revealed what may have happened with the highly sensitive satellite encryption and telecommunications data misappropriated by Sockowitz. Ms. Hill testified:
Q: You knew that Ira Sockowitz had been close to (top Commerce official) Laurie Fitz-Pegado at the Commerce Department from your discussions with Ron?
A: Not close. I mean –
Q: Or had worked with her in some way?
A: I knew that he – she had worked – that he had worked with her, yes.(368)
At the July 18, 1997 and August 1, 1997 deposition of Fitz-Pegado, Judicial Watch discovered that she and at least three (3) other former Clinton Commerce Department employees, who also had access to top-secret classified information, left Commerce and went to work for Iridium World Communications, Ltd.(369) Iridium is a multi-billion dollar company that is building a global wireless communication network that will enable subscribers to communicate using handheld telephones and pagers virtually anywhere in the world.(370) Iridium’s global network operates through combining a series of low-orbit satellites with land-based wireless systems. The sixty-six (66) low-earth-orbit satellites communicate with each other through encrypted messages. Iridium is owned, in part, by state-controlled entities in China, Russia and India.(371) These are the same three (3) countries that were the subject of classified intelligence data secretly removed by Sockowitz from the Clinton Commerce Department and stored in his safe at the SBA.(372)Obviously, Iridium stood to benefit enormously from the sensitive satellite encryption and telecommunications data that Sockowitz apparently removed from his safe at the Clinton Commerce Department and later kept in his safe at the SBA. Also, Fitz-Pegado seemingly had few qualifications for either her Clinton Commerce Department position, or her Iridium position, and ostensibly was hired because she was a close confidante of Secretary Brown and had accompanied him on trade missions.(373) It is more likely that Fitz-Pegado and her staff were extremely attractive to Iridium and its foreign joint-venture partners because they had access to top-secret, classified national security information while at the Clinton Commerce Department.
The Clinton Administration’s transfer to the Commerce Department of the power to control exports of highly sensitive technology, without even minimally adequate measures to properly protect that information, raises serious national security questions. Moreover, the revolving door uncovered by Judicial Watch raises the additional concern that highly sensitive information may have already been compromised. Were the individuals at the Clinton Commerce Department approving technology transfers to China on behalf of, or to aid companies they planned to work for after leaving the government?
C. The Infamous 1994 Trade Mission Trip to China.
Press reports indicate that the Clinton White House expended substantial effort on the 1994 trade mission to China.(374) The most likely reason for this substantial effort is because during the trip, the Lippo Group, John Huang’s former employer, the Chinese Government, and Entergy Corporation, a company with offices in Arkansas, successfully concluded negotiations for the building of a power plant in China.(375) According to Ms. Hill, Secretary Brown was ordered by Clinton to further the negotiations on behalf of Huang’s Lippo Group. In attendance on the China trip were Melinda Yee, the mission’s official note-taker who later testified at her Judicial Watch deposition that she destroyed all of her notes, Ira Sockowitz, who would later remove classified satellite encryption data and classified national security intelligence on China, Russia and India from his office at OGC, and Bernard Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer of Loral.(376)
Sockowitz reportedly claimed that he did not recall seeing Huang or Yee on the trip, but did recall sitting next to Bernard Schwartz at a dinner in Beijing with Chinese officials.(377) Huang reportedly pushed for Schwartz to be on the China trip, and Secretary Brown reportedly arranged a meeting between Schwartz and a top official of China’s Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.(378) Schwartz later recalled that the meeting “helped open doors that were not open before.”(379) Soon after the trip, Schwartz won the satellite transmission rights for a multi-billion dollar mobile telephone network in China.(380)Schwartz also reportedly lobbied hard to get satellite export control authority moved from the State Department to Commerce, and contributed heavily to the Democratic Party in the process. Indeed, he has provided some $1.9 million to Democrats since 1992, and was the party’s largest, single donor in 1997.
In the months before Loral received the Clinton Administration’s permission to launch a satellite from China, Schwartz reportedly attended three events inside the White House with President Clinton.(381)He was also under scrutiny at the time for earlier assistance to China that U.S. officials feared improperly aided the communist country’s missile program. Some believe Loral may well have passed sensitive satellite launch data to China Aerospace, an entity that is controlled by the People’s Liberation Army, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is also an owner of Iridium. In fact, the Pentagon recently reported that Loral’s data disclosure “harmed” national security.
D. Commerce Official’s Diaries Detail Information of “State Secrets”.
In addition to the top secret documents taken by Ira Sockowitz from the Clinton Commerce Department,(382) Judicial Watch also uncovered that Secretary Brown’s Chief of Staff, William Ginsburg, recorded classified information in “personal” diaries he kept in his office. The Clinton Administration itself admits that Ginsberg’s allegedly “personal” diaries detailed “state secrets,” including information on satellite surveillance, intelligence personnel and capabilities, and notes of a meeting of the National Security Council on an unnamed foreign country, among other “national security” information.(383) The similarities between the contents of the diaries and the materials taken by Sockowitz, notably the secret satellite information, are striking.
Ginsburg’s 12-volume diaries, consisting of 3,600 pages, could prove to be the “Rosetta stone” of how the Clinton Commerce Department operated under Secretary Brown. The diaries detail John Huang’s attempts to maintain a security clearance after leaving the Clinton Commerce Department,(384) and concerns about Clinton donor/China trade mission participant Bernard Schwartz of Loral. The Associated Press recently reported a key detail in the Ginsburg diaries concerning Schwartz’s connection to the Clinton Commerce Department:
Sometimes the relationship was a little too close for comfort.
When Loral was in the process of buying Unisys Corp.’s defense division in 1995, the Commerce Department’s chief of staff [William Ginsberg] wrote in his diary of concerns that a big donor like Schwarz might be seeking an audience with top department officials at a time when he needed to resolve a federal contract dispute involving Unisys during the deal.
“Key: not to talk to Loral (Bernard Schwartz) re this,” then-Commerce chief of staff William Ginsberg wrote.(385)
The Ginsberg diaries are currently in limbo, as the Clinton Commerce Department and Ginsberg “fight” over whether the diaries belong to the government or to Ginsberg personally.(386) In the meantime, it is beyond dispute that a top Clinton Commerce Department official was recording top secret information into what he considered at the time to be his personal diaries, which he later removed without authorization from the Department. And as with the secreting of top secret data by Ginsberg’s colleague Ira Sockowitz, this potentially serious breach of national security was uncovered only through Judicial Watch’s refusal to be thwarted by the Clinton Administration’s obstruction of justice in this case. It was not discovered by Janet Reno and her Justice Department.E. More Chinese Ties – Johnny Chung.
Another Clinton donor tied to the Chinese Government is Johnny Chung. Chung recently admitted that he funneled at least $100,000 of the $300,000 he received from Chinese military intelligence to Democrat causes in the summer of 1996. The conduit for the money was Liu Chao-ying, whose father was the head of China’s military at the time the donations were made to the DNC.(387)
Chung likely achieved his China connections through the Clinton Commerce Department. According to The Washington Post, investigators have searched through “fragments of data gathered from U.S. intelligence surveillance intercepts and business records” to trace the relationship between Chung and his Chinese military patrons:
The documents also trace the history of their partnership, showing how Chung’s political donations — which ultimately totaled $366,000 and were all eventually returned by the Democratic National Committee — led directly to meetings with Commerce Department officials. They suggested he attend a U.S. trade mission in Beijing, where Chung was introduced to senior Clinton administration officials, as well as the network of Chinese executives that would eventually include Liu.
******The same month as his donation to the party, Democratic operatives introduced Chung to then-Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary Jude Kearney, who in turn suggested that Chung join a Commerce Department trade mission to China, according to Chung’s proposed testimony — or proffer — to the Senate investigators. (Kearney said through an attorney that he did not recall making that suggestion, but did not dispute Chung’s account.)
The trip was Chung’s first visit to China. Indirectly, it led to Chung’s meeting with Liu and, in a previously unreported twist on the campaign finance scandal, to his hooking up with another Democratic fund-raiser, Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie, who was indicted earlier this year on charges that he illegally funneled foreign money to the Democrats.
Chung made the trip at his own expense and was not listed as a member of the official U.S. delegation, but Kearney met him at the Beijing airport and escorted him to a restaurant where they met Trie’s wife, Chung’s proffer said. Kearney then took Chung to a hotel where they met then-Commerce policy official Melinda Yee, the proffer said. Chung later attended functions where he met with government officials and executives from the United States and China, and had his picture taken with Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown.(388)
Clearly, the Clinton Commerce Department trade mission to China in 1994 was a confluence of illegal fundraising and illicit deal-making – which lead eventually to likely breaches of national security, including a massive attempt by a foreign power to subvert the electoral process in the United States. At best, this is serious malfeasance by the Clinton Administration. At worst, and more likely, the Clinton Administration’s disinterest in breaches of national security was purposeful — so as to allow the campaign fundraising operation run out of the Clinton White House and Commerce Department to proceed unchecked. It is thus clear that the campaign fundraising abuses at the Clinton Commerce Department, ordained and then covered-up by the Clinton White House, gave rise to likely breaches of national security.F. More Chinese Ties – Charlie Trie.
Yet another Clinton donor with links to the Clinton Commerce Department is Charlie “Yah Lin” Trie, who is under investigation for funneling illegal foreign donations to the DNC.(389) Trie also helped the Chinese communist arms dealer Wang Jun to gain access to a fundraising coffee with President Clinton.(390)
Documents uncovered by congressional investigators demonstrate the nexus of money, access and China at the Clinton Commerce Department:
A key ally [of Trie’s], according to the documents, was Jude Kearney, a deputy assistant secretary in the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration.In October 1993, Trie helped shepherd Kearney, a fellow Arkansan, around China.
“It was very helpful to have someone around who knew the ropes,” Kearney wrote Trie after the trip.
In June 1994, Kearney joined Trie’s business associates and guests at a table at a Democratic National Committee fund-raising dinner while Trie sat at Clinton’s table. That fall, according to the documents, Kearney supported a request by Trie to host a party for the participants on a U.S. trade mission to China. Kearney said last year he couldn’t recall whether Trie actually ever hosted the party. In February 1995, Trie sat at first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s table at another Democratic fund-raiser.
The documents show that in September 1995, Kearney asked the U.S. Embassy in Beijing to invite Trie to events with Mrs. Clinton during her trip to China. Upon Trie’s return to the United States, he attended a White House dinner with other large Democratic givers, including postal union leader Moe Biller, Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and oil executive Roger Tamraz, who was raising money for Democrats while being wanted in Lebanon on bank fraud charges.
Later Trie joined a Commerce Department discussion of Asian issues with the chief executive officers of Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other companies and such federal policymakers, including Deputy Commerce Secretary David Barram and Small Business Administrator Philip Lader. And in January 1996, Kearney and Trie both attended a meeting of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology.(391)
Judicial Watch uncovered that Trie had regular access to Deputy Assistant Secretary Kearney, meeting with him several times.(392) Kearney’s secretary, Christine Sopko, testified that the schedule and agenda for the 1994 trade mission to China was faxed to Trie from Kearney’s office and that Trie, who had no security clearance, may have had access to classified documents in Kearny’s office.(393) Even more worrisome is that Kearney’s office in the Clinton Commerce Department had a back door through which individuals could come and go unseen by the staff outside.(394)Trie is now under indictment for “purchas[ing] access to high-level government officials in the United States by contribution and soliciting contributions to the DNC.”(395) The Clinton Justice Department, which issued the indictment, has yet to charge any of the officials who accepted or benefitted from Trie’s bribes.
Judicial Watch will continue to pursue its investigation, but Congress must, nonetheless, act. The Clinton Commerce Department has essentially pled nolo contendre to Judicial Watch concerns about the shredding of documents, perjury, and the outright refusal to produce documents in response to court orders. In an extraordinarily desperate legal move, the Clinton Justice Department, speaking for the Clinton Commerce Department, asked the Court to close the Judicial Watch case by entering a judgement against itself. The Clinton Commerce Department has offered to do a “second search” for trade mission documents and pay Judicial Watch, using taxpayer money, at least $2 million dollars in attorneys’ fees and costs. Judicial Watch will not be bribed, especially with taxpayer funds, and has opposed this Clinton Administration ploy to make the investigation into the illegal sale of trade mission seats go away.
Instead, Judicial Watch has asked the Court to begin immediate criminal contempt proceedings against those who have obstructed justice in this case – namely, Clinton agents Leon Panetta, John Podesta, Melissa Moss, Jude Kearney and others.
In the meantime, more documents corroborating that illegal fundraising occurred at the Clinton Commerce Department emerged just recently. The documents, memos from Clinton Commerce official Sally Painter (Melissa Moss’s deputy in Commerce’s Office of Business Liaison), are more “smoking guns.” One memo, dated January 24, 1994, indicates that Painter “will be meeting with Eric Silden of the DNC on 1/24 to discuss key business types that we want for the database and other interactions that should that place.”(396) Another document by Silden also confirms the DNC provided donor names to the Commerce Department.(397) The Associated Press reported:
But in a Jan. 13, 1994, electronic-mail memo to his colleagues at the DNC, staff member Eric Silden reported that Commerce official Sally Painter had called “to ask for a list of candidates for a trade mission to Russia.”Silden’s e-mail suggested that DNC staffers use a list of suggested participants for a trade mission to Belgium as a starting point for coming up with a list for the Russia trip.(398)
Based in part on these new documents, the Court authorized a subpoena for more Commerce records and computers, and authorized the depositions of key Clinton fundraisers Terry McAuliffe and Marvin Rosen, among other DNC officials.(399) McAuliffe and Rosen were two of the Clinton fundraisers implicated in wrong-doing by Nolanda Hill in her court testimony on the trade mission sales.(400) The DNC will now have to turn over more documents that could further expose the DNC-Commerce-White House illegal fundraising apparatus.A separate Judicial Watch case, against the Clinton-appointee-dominated Federal Election Commission (“FEC”), could also further expose the scheme to sell trade mission seats for political contributions to the light of day. Having already uncovered the sale of seats on Clinton Commerce Department trade missions, Judicial Watch filed a complaint with the FEC on August 26, 1996, to investigate and take appropriate action to redress this illegal activity. Without taking any action for a year and a half, the FEC casually dismissed Judicial Watch’s complaint on December 15, 1997. As a result, Judicial Watch filed suit.
Ironically, while commencing controversial investigations into GOPAC and other alleged illegal Republican campaign finance abuses, the General Counsel of the FEC, Lawrence Noble — a partisan Democrat — moved to have Judicial Watch’s complaint dismissed, claiming, with great bombast, that it was frivolous and, in echoes of prior acts of intimidation by the Clinton Administration, that Judicial Watch’s Chairman, Larry Klayman, should be sanctioned.(401)
The Court strenuously disagreed and found that the FEC’s inaction, in the face of serious allegations of bribery, were “inexplicable.” The Court, in denying Mr. Noble’s motion to dismiss and motion for sanctions, took the added step of entering judgment itself (i.e., sua sponte) against the FEC. In so doing, the Court gave the FEC 120 days, or until early November 1998, to decide how it would handle Judicial Watch’s allegations. The Court also noted that, “[f]or some reason [perhaps because its enforcement arm is run by a Democrat, General Counsel Lawrence Noble], the FEC is attempting to thwart a review of [Judicial Watch’s] charges. . . .”(402)
Senator John McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (which has oversight responsibility for the Clinton Commerce Department), has also recently expressed concern about the evidence of the sale of the Clinton Commerce Department seats and its link to national security:
When the decision makers are cloaked in the shadows of impropriety, we lose confidence. When I see memos such as this one (MEMO RE WHITE HOUSE ACTIVITIES), advertising how favors such as inclusion in Department of Commerce trade missions can be bought for a campaign contribution, I can’t help but wonder whether the same agency can be trusted to make responsible decisions regarding national security.(403)
A reasonable analysis of the documentary and testimonial evidence unearthed by Judicial Watch would indicate that President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton were heavily involved in the theft of government resources to sell for contributions for President Clinton’s re-election bid. This fundraising push, to the degree it involved individuals such as Clinton-hire John Huang and policies such Clinton-approved hi-tech transfers to China through Commerce, compromised our nation’s security. The President’s two White House deputies, then-Chief of Staff Leon Panetta and Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta, ordered the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to cover-up these crimes. Clinton’s agents at Commerce and the Department of Justice did their level best to accomplish this.If it were not for Judicial Watch’s exposure of John Huang; if it were not for Judicial Watch’s refusal to walk away with $2 million in taxpayer dollars offered by Clinton’s agents; if it were not for Judicial Watch’s investigations that have uncovered key documents and witnesses such as Nolanda Hill, and if it were not for a diligent and alert Court, then the President, his appointees, and agents might have gotten away with this criminal enterprise.
The overwhelming evidence of President Clinton’s illegal activities related to the Commerce trade mission sales are now before this Congress. We respectfully request, in the context of expected impeachment proceedings on other serious issues, that Congress consider whether the actions of this President and his appointees in this matter also warrant his impeachment and removal from office.(404) ”
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