House Hearing to Probe Farrakhan's Overseas Trip: Libya Visit May Have Broken 5 U.S. Laws

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A House subcommittee has scheduled a potentially explosive hearing March 19 on Louis Farrakhan's defiance of U.S. foreign policy and possible violations of law during a 20-nation trip that White House spokesman Michael McCurry called a "thugfest tour."

"Predictably, we have a rather dim view of it," the press secretary said yesterday. "He met with some of the most brutal dictators and leaders of nations that the United States considers pariah states."

The Justice Department is looking into promises of financial aid from Libya, Mr. McCurry said.

The Nation of Islam leader's trip to Africa and Asia included some countries on the U.S. list for sponsoring terrorism, such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Sudan.

Rep. Peter King, who heads the House International Relations subcommittee on international operations and human rights, said yesterday he read that Mr. Farrakhan had challenged him to "bring me before Congress" and declared that "it's time for a showdown anyway."

"I'm not scared of people like Farrakhan," the New York Republican congressman told The Washington Times yesterday in a telephone interview.

"This has nothing to do with free speech, as his people claim. It has to do with whether a person has a right to violate U.S. laws."

A spokesman for Mr. King said there had been "considerable reluctance" within Congress to holding such a hearing, given the potential for a racially charged confrontation.

Such a confrontation in an election year could be particularly inflammatory and disruptive.

Mr. King said the subcommittee will examine whether as many as five laws were broken during Mr. Farrakhan's trip to Libya.

The Nation of Islam leader will not testify at the March 19 hearing, but "Mr. King is committed to getting Mr. Farrakhan to testify at a subsequent hearing," his spokesman said.

Mr. Farrakhan said Sunday that he accepted a $1 billion pledge from Libya's Col. …