Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton's Denial Falls Flat

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton's Denial Falls Flat

Article excerpt

Asked directly about a charge made in this column that President Bill Clinton had been personally involved in the solicitation of an illegal $250,000 campaign contribution, press secretary Michael McCurry replied, "That's flat-out wrong."

Flat-out, rooted in the auto-racing metaphor of pressing an accelerator flat against the car floor, has come to mean "totally committed." What the president's spokesman meant was flat - "plain, stark, unadorned."

Now to the wrong, Clintonese for "mistaken," but connoting moral condemnation. Let's examine the facts: (1) We know that Democratic finance vice chairman John Huang, "the $4 million man" from Indonesia's Lippo banking empire controlled by the Riady family, this spring asked South Korea's Cheong Am Co. for money to re-elect Clinton. (2) We know that a Cheong Am executive - a foreign national working for a foreign corporation that just set up a U.S. subsidiary - insisted on first meeting Clinton in person. (3) We know that in April, Lippo's Huang arranged for Cheong Am's James Lee to shake hands and chat with Clinton at a fund-raiser. (4) We know that subsequent to that meeting, substantial money passed: a Cheong Am check for $250,000 was paid to the Democratic account designated by Huang. (5) We know - as the Democratic Finance Committee chairman admitted to me - that the contribution solicited by Lippo's Huang, using the president himself as the closer, broke our law forbidding foreign funding. (6) But only when The Los Angeles Times questioned this illegal transaction did the Clintonites return the money. If not caught red-handed, Democratic admen would be using that hot-soft money to help saturate California's TV market today. How, then, can my demonstrably accurate charge be called "flat-out wrong," or even "flat wrong"? The Clinton way: by total denial. On Sunday Vice President Al Gore inserted his office into what should be the purview of the election crimes branch of the Justice Department by declaring the Asian influence-peddling scandal nonexistent: "There have been absolutely no violations of any law." Gore went even further to distance the Democratic ticket from its spreading foreign-money ethics mess, insisting to NBC "there is nothing that has been done that's wrong. …

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