[Congressional Record Volume 146, Number 80 (Thursday, June 22, 2000)]
[Pages S5654-S5656]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I want to share some thoughts tonight 
about a major development concerning the investigation involving the 
financing of the Vice President's 1996 reelection campaign. First, 
however, I would like to say that this matter should have been over 
some time ago, but the Attorney General declined to appoint an 
Independent Counsel. The Justice Department attorneys who were involved 
in the investigation of the campaign financing matter have recently 
testified before the Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, which is 
chaired by Senator Specter and of which I am a

[[Page S5655]]

member. In my opinion, these attorneys have not produced credible and 
justifiable reasons for the lack of an appointment of an Indpendent 
Counsel or for the extraordinary delays that have incurred in the 
campaign finance investigation.
  My 15 years of experience as a prosecutor in the Department of 
Justice convince me that if the Department of Justice was not going to 
call for an outside prosecutor--an Independent Counsel--to investigate 
Vice President Gore, it had an imperative obligation to investigate the 
matter thoroughly, promptly, and fairly and to bring it to a 
conclusion. But the attorneys for the Department of Justice who have 
been involved in this matter for years did not do that.
  Late this afternoon, the Associated Press and the New York Times 
reported that Robert Conrad, the new head of the Justice Department's 
Campaign Finance Task Force, has requested that Attorney General Reno 
appoint a ``special counsel.'' After the expiration of the Independent 
Counsel Statute, Attorney General Reno has the authority to appoint a 
special counsel to investigate Vice President Gore's involvement in the 
1996 campaign fundraising matters.
  This is the most recent in a long line of highly respected officials 
within and without the Department of Justice who have asked for a 
complete and independent investigation of various aspects of the Vice 
President's fundraising activities. Unfortunately, each and every 
previous request for an independent investigation has been denied.
  FBI Director Louis Freeh, himself a former Federal judge and a former 
experienced and skilled Federal prosecutor who personally prosecuted 
some of this country's most complex cases, recommended the appointment 
of an Independent Counsel in the fall of 1996.
  FBI General Counsel Larry Parkinson also recommended an Independent 
  The former head of the Justice Department's Campaign Finance Task 
Force, Mr. Charles La Bella, also recommended that an Independent 
Counsel be appointed. He actually did so several times after he took 
over as head of the task force in the fall of 1997. He eventually 
resigned from that position.
  Chief FBI Investigator DeSarno joined in La Bella's recommendations.
  Ms. Judy Feigin, Mr. La Bella's chief prosecutor in 1998, also 
recommended that an Independent Counsel be appointed in the campaign 
finance matter.
  Finally, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Bob Litt--the 
associate Attorney General third in line to Janet Reno at the 
Department of Justice, an individual she picked and was approved by the 
President--recommended the appointment of an Independent Counsel. He 
switched his position after opposing such an appointment for some time. 
Even Mr. Litt recommended an Independent Counsel in 1998. But no 
independent investigation has been approved to date.
  Mr. Conrad testified before our subcommittee a few days ago. He 
impressed me as a solid prosecutor with over 10 years experience, with 
a substantial record of trying courtroom cases. He understood his duty. 
He was soft spoken. He was solid. He would never be led into saying 
things he did not think were proper. We were very impressed with him. 
Since his involvement with the case began approximately six months ago, 
some five people have pleaded guilty or been convicted of criminal 
offenses arising from the financing of the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. 
So his recommendation for an independent investigation is entitled to 
substantial weight and is very, very important for America.
  I sincerely and earnestly request that the Attorney General not deny 
this most recent request to investigate the Vice President regarding 
the receipt of illegal campaign contributions.
  Yesterday, at our hearing, chaired by Senator Specter, Mr. Conrad 
testified that he had personally interviewed Vice President Gore in 
April. Mr. Radek, a top Department of Justice official, has recently 
confirmed, in an NBC Meet the Press interview, that Vice President 
Gore's Buddhist temple fundraiser is ``still under investigation by the 
task force. And if any evidence shows up that Vice President Gore knew 
about the crimes that were involved there, of course, that would, 
again, cause a triggering of the now independent counsel regulations in 
the department.'' I believe Mr. Radek was referring to the new special 
counsel provisions.
  News accounts in the New York Post recently reported that at the 
interview, the Vice President ``blew his top . . . because they asked 
about his illegal Buddhist temple fundraiser for the first time.''  
Further, the Vice President ``seemed stunned'' and ``fumed'' when 
confronted with these allegations, and the interview ``ended in a 
yelling match between Gore and federal investigators.''

  These are the investigations of Mr. Conrad. After four years, finally 
Vice President was asked about this. That is the description of that 
interview. I would think the Vice President would want to clear up the 
matter and be candid and forthcoming with the investigator. It would 
certainly be better for the country. It would certainly allow the 
matter to have been concluded sooner.
  What is this campaign financing matter about? Why is it that this 
Buddhist temple matter simply will not go away?
  On April 29, 1996, in Hacienda Heights, California, Vice President 
Gore held a fundraiser at a Buddhist temple--a tax-exempt institution 
where you shouldn't be able to hold a fundraiser. Several questions 
arose from this fundraiser.
  Who were the people surrounding Vice President Gore at this event? 
Were the people involved in this event involved in illegal foreign-
source contributions?
  What was the role of the Vice President's staff and DNC staff 
regarding this event? What was the Vice President's role regarding this 
fund-raising event?
  The poster shows a picture of Vice President Gore at the Buddhist 
temple fund raiser. To his far right is Maria Hsia, his long-time 
friend and fund-raiser of more than 10 years, who was recently 
convicted on 5 felony counts. Her convictions stem directly from the 
Buddhist temple fund-raiser. It is important to note that the 
investigation by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee concluded 
that Maria Hsia is an ``agent of the Chinese government, that she acted 
knowingly in support of it, and that she has attempted to conceal her 
relationship with the Chinese government.''
  To Vice President Gore's immediate left is Ted Sieong, who fled the 
country as soon as he was implicated in the fund-raising scandals and 
who we believe remains under criminal investigation. Ted Sioeng is an 
overseas businessman who has been tied to hundreds of thousands of 
dollars in illegal contributions during the 1996 campaign, and the 
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee concluded that he ``worked, and 
perhaps still works, on behalf of the Chinese government.'' Behind and 
to Vice President Gore's right is John Huang, a Vice Chairman of the 
DNC staff who helped the Vice President plan the Buddhist temple event. 
Mr. Huang also subsequently pleaded guilty to a felony count. He raised 
over a million in illegal foreign-source contributions.
  Finally, behind the Vice President and to his far right is Man Ho 
Shih a Buddhist Nun who admitted to another Committee of the Senate 
that she and others set about destroying documents relating to the 
temple fund raiser. According to one of her fellow monastics, those 
documents were destroyed because they ``did not want to embarrass the 
Vice President.'' She also fled the country before she was scheduled to 
testify in a court of law, and is now under indictment, but evading 
  Moreover, another key piece of evidence which could shed some light 
on this issue, the videotape of the event, has never been found. This 
is a serious matter. The rule of law is a serious matter. A legitimate 
investigation is required.
  I make no suggestion that the Vice President is guilty of any crime 
related to this event and I sincerely hope that he is not.
  I am deeply troubled that senior officials in the Justice Department 
have refused for four years to allow investigators the opportunity to 
ask the necessary questions of the Vice President and other senior 
administration officials so that this matter can be resolved one way or 
the other.

[[Page S5656]]

  Indeed, we had testimony in our subcommittee, and we went over it two 
days ago with Mr. Mansfield the former Assistant United States Attorney 
in Los Angeles who started the initial investigation of the Buddhist 
temple fundraiser.
  When this news broke late in the 1996 Presidential campaign, Mr. 
Mansfield, who had previously and successfully prosecuted a Republican 
Congressman for campaign fraud, was preparing his investigative plan 
for this event. He testified that in these kind of cases you need to 
move quickly to get records and documents and interview witnesses. But 
he was stopped by a political appointee, the chief of the Public 
Integrity Section in the Department of Justice, by written direction. 
And he was not allowed to proceed to interview witnesses, or to issue 
subpoenas for documents. And, indeed, the Department of Justice 
subsequently declared that no Independent Counsel was required, 
rejecting the suggestion of Senator McCain, who previously talked on 
this floor and who wrote at that time calling for an Independent 
Counsel to be appointed. And five other Members joined in that letter.
  But the Department of Justice attorneys who stopped Mr. Mansfield's 
investigation did not interview any witnesses or do any significant 
  That is why I believe it is important that Mr. Conrad's request for 
the appointment of a special counsel should be granted. The Attorney 
General has one more chance to do what I believe is her duty.
  Mr. Conrad has a reputation as a man of integrity and a solid 
prosecutor who gets results. As the current chief prosecutor who has 
been in place for only a few months, has done a fine job in securing 5 
convictions and guilty plea agreements in several key cases. One of 
these involved Pauline Kanchanalak, who was responsible for funneling 
approximately $690,000 of illegal foreign money to the Democratic 
National Committee and 5 state Democratic parties. More than $457,000 
of this amount was related to one White House coffee on June 18, 1996, 
organized by John Huang and attended by President Clinton. Another case 
involved the conviction of Maria Hsia on March 2, 2000, which resulted, 
in part, from her involvement in the California Buddhist Temple 
fundraiser to funnel more than $100,000 of illegal foreign money into 
the Clinton-Gore 1996 reelection campaign. Even after her conviction on 
five felony counts, Maria Hsia is still not in jail. In fact, Judge 
Friedman granted her request to have her passport returned so she can 
travel freely between China and the United States.
  At any rate, some progress apparently is being made. And I commend 
the efforts of Mr. Conrad. I believe that his work has the potential to 
restore the integrity of the Department of Justice, and I believe 
Attorney General Reno should follow his advice and appoint a special 
counsel to conclude this matter.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin is recognized.