in the Federal Government
Transcript from Conservative Roundtable,
The public affairs television program of The Conservative Caucus
450 Maple Avenue, East * Vienna, Va 22180 * 703-938-9626
Guest: Larry Klayman, Esq.
Chairman and Founder, Judicial Watch
Friday, August 1, 1997 First Broadcast
Find out more about Conservative Roundtable. Go to Part 2
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Welcome to Conservative Roundtable. I'm Howard Phillips. My guest for this broadcast is attorney Larry Klayman, the founder and chairman of Judicial Watch, an organization which, among other things, monitors corruption in the Federal government.
Larry, you've been probably more closely observing the hearings on Capitol Hill than any other American so far as I know. You've been covering them for NET, the Political Newstalk Network, which was the first television network to give priority attention to what's going on. We are now in early August Congress is about leave town. How would you size up the hearings those far which have been proceeding under the gavel of Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee?
LARRY KLAYMAN: Howard, we took a certain pride that these hearings even took place because it was our case against the Commerce Department which we brought three years ago which uncovered John Huang, it uncovered the sale of government services in this case, trade missions for large campaign contributions and, of course, taxpayers pay for that.
So, when we created that ignition that sparked this entire investigation, we wanted Senator Thompson to succeed, so I was very happy to do the commentary when Paul Weyrich asked me for the National Empowerment Television. And, of course, we continue to take depositions in our case, and gather information alongside the committee.
But we have been disappointed in these hearings so far. It would appear to us that Senator Thompson and the Republicans on that committee were not sufficiently prepared in going into the hearings. Perhaps they were rushing it a bit to beat Dan Burton, who has his own investigation on the House side, and there's a little bit of politics between the two chambers.
They hadn't gotten subpoenas out to the White House, to important witnesses like the Lippo Bank they were relying on the good faith of these individuals and entities they did not have a quick response time when the investigation started, so 50 major witnesses left the country, including Charlie Trie, including Pauline Kanchanalak (two Asian-Americans that were involved in the corruption at the Commerce Department in legal fund-raising those are just two examples), and the senators themselves, when the hearings began over a month ago, didn't seem to be terribly prepared: they came in and asked questions in a random way, they brought witnesses before the committee gratuitously praising their honesty and integrity only to find out, much to their shock, that these witnesses weren't honest. Some of them developed lapses of memory. It was a rather embarrassing scene the first week, with witnesses called by the Republicans, that were exonerating the Democrats. It took someone even like Senator Torricelli (who's not one of the more honorable individuals of that committee he took money from John Huang and the Lippo Group) to say something for once that was somewhat true. He crowed that perhaps the first witness, Richard Sullivan, exonerated the Democrats; he couldn't understand why the Republicans called him as a witness.
So I was understandably critical not because we didn't want the hearings to succeed, but because we wanted to send a wake-up call to the Republicans that they had to roll up their sleeves and do their job. And it did improve. Going into week two, they divided the witnesses up among different senators. We heard testimony from individuals from the CIA and from other parts of government that shed light on John Huang and what he was doing at the Commerce Department. But it was very, very sporadic. Even after that they didn't keep a continuity, and by the end of week two, they ran out of witnesses again because they weren't prepared.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Is that why they brought on Haley Barbour, the Republican chairman, at that point?
LARRY KLAYMAN: I don't think they will admit that, but I think it was because the Republicans simply had gone through Act One, and finished the play so to speak, and turned it over, incredulously, to an investigation of their own party when in fact any alleged wrongs against the Republicans are minute compared to the huge corruption in the Clinton administration. I think that was puzzling for Americans to understand the shift.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: The only logical explanation is that Senator Thompson may have wished to demonstrate his personal bipartisan spirit. I don't whether he planned it in advance or rather it was spontaneous, but he managed to beat up on Haley Barbour for not fully repaying a loan that was made to the National Policy Forum. But certainly his conduct at that point in the hearings, led to the conclusion that the pudding had no theme.
Do you think before this is over the pudding will have a theme? Do you think the investigative staff of the committee knows where it is going?
You and I both recall the Watergate hearings in 1973 and 1974, and the Democratic staff Bernie Nussbaum, Hillary Rodham, and others knew exactly what they wanted to accomplish Sam Dash, etc. They knew who was in their sights and they knew how they were going to get it. They explored every opening, every unlocked window or door was opened. But there seems to be no such pattern or strategy here.
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, there's a couple of problems. Number one, you look at the Democrats on that committee: three of them have taken money from John Huang. You have Senator Glenn, Senator Torricelli, Senator Levin. They are more than tainted, they shouldn't even be on that committee perhaps to the extent they should be before the committee, it is as witnesses, not as senators.
You have others on there who have had problems here and there. You even have some Republicans that have had some problems. Senator Specter was recently fined for campaign finance violations.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: And, of course, he also recently arranged for a Federal subsidy to go to an organization associated with the movie producer, Steven Spielberg, and shortly thereafter Spielberg put on a major reelection fund-raiser for Mr. Specter against whom he had worked in his previous election campaign.
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, Senator Specter is quite flexible in his political inclinations. But you also have some others on there, and I think there is a reticence to dig too deep, because when you talk about campaign fund-raising and the corruption in that system basically influence-peddling all senators have some scrape with that at some point in time.
So they're worried that if they put on some major witnesses, let's say you had Harold Ickes. He should have been one of the first witnesses. Well, Harold, as he's affectionately called, could challenge one of these Republican senators and say, "but, senator, here's what you've done in that campaign; here's what you are investigated for". So I think you can now understand why they've come forward with secondary witnesses: those who don't know too much. And it may also explain, somewhat humorously, why they went light on Haley Barbour: Haley knows where all the bodies are buried with regard to all of them.
And you have situations where Senator Lieberman wound up praising him profusely (and, certainly, he didn't do anything terribly wrong), but it created a confusion among the American people similar to the confusion that you would have if you had a court case before a jury and the opening statement was incoherent.
Because, as you know, Howard, in most cases if you don't make a convincing opening statement, you're not going to get the jury and you are not going to win the case. And that is the problem with the Thompson hearings: the first few weeks were not convincing, the American people don't understand the full impact, and I hope they can recover after a month off, because we do wish them well.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Well, I think your observation is very astute and appropriate. I can speak with some personal knowledge about Senator Robert Bennett, the Republican of Utah. During the Nixon years, he was himself the object of scrutiny. Some people thought that he was "Deep Throat", others cast aspersions on him in other ways. He ran a company called the Mullen Company which had official connections with the CIA (or at least actual connections with the CIA). He was involved in some fund-raising activities which would not stand the light of day even in today's context. So, it's therefore understandable that he pulls his punches, and, after some very damaging testimony is given, can tell a witness, "gee, that's wonderful; everything is fine, you're doing great, there's no problem here".
Is it possible that all of these problems will, nonetheless, be overcome by Senator Thompson's desire to make a name for himself, to wind up as a media hero, and a Republican hero looking toward the year 2000?
LARRY KLAYMAN: I hope so. Senator Thompson is a nice man. He, perhaps, is well-intentioned there's no reason to believe otherwise.
But the problem here is that you can't gratuitously get up in front of these committees and give the American people a false impression. If a witness comes in front of you, and let's say, Michael Cardozo of the President's legal defense fund (and this will tell you how they weren't prepared); Michael Cardozo ran this fund it was a way to pump money into the President. This was our first lawsuit against the Clinton administration three years ago you cannot, as a Federal government official, accept money from the outside and Cardozo set this up with a group of trustees, mostly Democrats, some moderate Republicans that were trying to curry favor, like Elliot Richardson and others. And this was an invitation to people like Charlie Trie, who we just found out, from China, pumped $600,000 of Communist Chinese cash right into the President's account.
Well, we go through some testimony on this, and not one of the senators asked Michael Cardozo what Webster Hubbell was doing in his office while he was under indictment at the same time that he was running this fund (and this is when Hubbell was receiving all that cash which we think was hush money from Lippo Group and others) why weren't they aware of that?
Michael Cardozo was the last one who was seen with Vince Foster the weekend before Vince Foster died. Vince Foster was at his home [BREAK IN TAPE of approx 5 seconds] honest, because in fact he never would have been doing this. It's a violation of law to even have a legal defense fund.
So, this posturing and that's what concerns me that somehow these Republican senators feel that the way to get reelected the way, perhaps, to be President of the United States is to play to the so-called "middle America" that the pollsters tell them they have to play to, to move on to bigger and better things. I think that if they get beyond that and just do their job, we'll be fine.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Larry, when we come back after this break, I want to ask you if you would make the same observations about Ken Starr in his role as Independent Counsel, and I also want to work with you in getting to the bottom of the Ron Brown scandals.
Please stay with us. We'll be right back after these messages.
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HOWARD PHILLIPS: Welcome back. I'm Howard Phillips with Judicial Watch chairman Larry Klayman.
Larry, we were talking about how the Republicans in the Senate investigation of the Clinton administration don't seem to be very well organized they're going through the motions. Would you make a similar comment about Ken Starr and his work as Independent Counsel?
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, it would appear, given the fact that he was about ready to leave for Pepperdine six months ago, that Ken Starr was never really a full-time Independent Counsel. Now if you layer on top of that all of the investigations that he was assigned to do from Travelgate to Whitewater to Vince Foster you name it. You can't be part time and expect that he's going to be very effective.
Now, he got a wake-up call (I was critical during that period, you were, others were) and I hope that he's doing the job now, but frankly I'm skeptical particularly seeing the report on Vince Foster it's just simply not credible that he would come out with the conclusion similar to Fiske.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: None of the hard questions about the suspicious death of Vince Foster seem to have been addressed by Starr. He seemed simply to have rubber-stamped the previous whitewash by Fiske. Yet the media is now able to use that to dismiss further inquiry, and I think that is a tremendous disservice that Mr. Starr has done.
Larry, I'd like to focus the rest of the broadcast on the pioneering work which you have done with respect to Ron Brown, the Commerce Department, and his role in all of these scandals.
Let me get right to the heart of the matter. There are many people in America who believe that Ron Brown's death was all too convenient for Bill Clinton, that, had he lived, the testimony he would have been required to give, the focus of investigation on his activities would have brought down Bill Clinton. Many people think that the plane crash in which he perished was not an accident. What do you think?
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, I think it wasn't an accident either, but, what is unfortunate is that you need an investigative agency like the Justice Department and the FBI to really look into it and find out what happened.
We knew that Ron Brown was a scandal waiting to happen. That's why, back in 1995 I brought a lawsuit in January on behalf of Judicial Watch because it seemed to me that, if you are going to look at the Clinton administration, the Commerce Department where Brown was Secretary, was the first place to look.
You had the all time leading Democrat fund-raiser. You had someone who had been accused of accepting the $600,000 bribe from the government of Vietnam to push trade relations and that mysteriously ended just a day before we opened up trade relations (there was this grand jury in Miami). Someone who had represented, in his private practice, Baby Doc Duvalier, one of the worst dictators in American history (America being the whole region), who persecuted Brown's own people in effect somebody who was just completely amoral. Brown was the kind of person who got himself involved in business deals profiting off of government service, or public service. So that's why we focused on him.
We were making headway, we brought a lawsuit. The judge, in fact, had allowed us to take discovery, we had noticed his deposition, and, ironically, he asked for a postponement because he had to go to Bosnia during that trip, no one was more disappointed (obviously I didn't want to see him die, from a humanitarian standpoint). We wanted to get the information out of him. He had a tremendous knowledge of what went on in that Clinton administration.
Now, moving forward, of course, months later, we came upon John Huang and that was the spark that rekindled this whole scandal. But since then, we've met with someone that he was in business with, and this was his latest Independent Counsel grand jury investigation at the time that he died.
That person's name: Nolanda Hill. She opened a company called First International. It was alleged that he received $500,000 of defaulted government loan money from that company under the table which he never reported on his disclosure forms when he became Secretary of Commerce, and perhaps not on his income tax returns.
Nolanda Hill is in a position to know what happened with Ron Brown, and we were fortunate enough to convince her to meet with us. She told me and she told our investigator, Andy Thibault, that she believes Ron Brown was killed which is an incredible statement.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Killed intentionally, not by accident.
LARRY KLAYMAN: Killed intentionally, by the Clinton administration. I asked her "how did you come to that conclusion?"
She said that two weeks before that plane went down, Ron Brown had gone to the White House and met with the President. Typically, he was walking around in bare feet; he sat down on his couch, put his feet up on the stool, and Brown said to him, that he was going to have to plea to some type of plea bargain to end that Independent Counsel investigation that concerned First International; that it was closing in on him, it was closing in on his son, Michael, who was alleged to have taken a bribe on his behalf from these lums? [hoodlums?] who ultimately have gotten into trouble.
And the reaction of Clinton was, with his hands crossed: that's nice, no comment, kind of like an organized crime figure, she took it.
And when the plane went down two weeks later, she received a call from the Secretary of the Army that said they were looking for the bodies in the water and, of course, we know the official alibi is that the plane hit a mountain. And, from that, she kind of comes to the conclusion that there is something obviously very suspicious here. She says that Brown always had a difficult relationship with the White House; it was a marriage of convenience, and she thinks he was killed. And that is, perhaps, her motivation in coming forward and now talking to the authorities (she's talked not just to us, but to the Thompson committee, perhaps to Dan Burton's committee), she's trying to arrange for some type of immunity to testify. We hope and pray for her health, because she is in a position that she could tell the entire story. And, although she admits to wrongdoing, she says she now wants to set the record straight. So here is somebody, the closest person to Ron Brown (perhaps even closer than his wife) who believes that he was killed by someone in the Clinton administration, perhaps the President himself.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: And, of course, there were other people traveling with him who went down in the process of Mr. Brown's death in that plane crash.
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, you know, ruthless people will do ruthless things. Some of those people actually had knowledge about Ron Brown's doings. For instance, this person, Chuck Meissner, who we heard about during the Thompson committee hearings, and who we've received a lot testimony about Meissner was John Huang's boss. Meissner was the guy who, according to Jeffrey Garten [Undersecretary of Commerce for international trade during Clinton's first term], didn't heed instructions in keeping Huang just in certain areas. This is somebody who, conveniently, also went down in that plane crash, who might have a lot to say today.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: So it was like shooting fish in a barrel for those who found Mr. Brown's continued existence un...
LARRY KLAYMAN: That's a good way of putting it, Howard. You know, after Ron Brown died there was also someone else who turned up dead at the Commerce Department a Miss Wise this was somebody who worked in the same division as John Huang who perhaps knew that documents were being destroyed.
We had taken the deposition that is when we get oral testimony as lawyers of John Huang's secretary, and she was forced to admit at our deposition that Huang handed her cables from overseas (who knows where from perhaps even Communist China) and told her to shred them on a daily basis.
Now this person who was found dead worked in that section, and maybe she had information, maybe she was willing to come forward you don't know. But what we do know is that she was found naked in her office, dead, on a Monday morning after a long holiday and mysteriously, no one has really followed up on that. This is something that came and went.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: What was the cause of death that was reported?
LARRY KLAYMAN: They claim natural causes, but I don't think you're found naked, dead, in a Commerce Department office, of natural causes that doesn't sound too logical.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Not even if she was trying ... to promote tourism.
LARRY KLAYMAN: Any reasonable person ... right.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: What have you found that can you talk to us about in the depositions which you have taken in connection with the Department of Commerce?
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, we've found a number of things. There was only one deposition that was taken under controlled circumstances which I can't discuss and that was of the CIA agent Dickerson, but the rest are all public depositions they're on video. In fact, we've offered them to Thompson to use if he's unable to get witnesses, he can show videos. And it might also be helpful to show John Huang lying at our depositions, which he did, and then put on witnesses to prove that so the American people could see the deceit.
But, what we've learned is the following: 1) that Commerce Department people have shredded documents that were called for in our case, they've hidden documents, that Ron Brown's secretary was never searched in response to our lawsuit (document that were requested). In fact, after he died, his office was like Grand Central Station with Michael Brown, his son, going in and out, his daughter, Tracy, his wife, Alma, Department employees they basically sanitized that office.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Sounds like Vince Foster all over again.
We have to take a break now. We'll get the rest of the story right after these messages.
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Right now, there's no money in the defense budget to keep our U.S. bases in Panama, and even as we reduce our defense spending, Red China boosts theirs with $40 billions each year coming from us as the result of the MFN (Most-Favored-Nation) status.
We, the people, along with our leaders in Congress and at the White House have a duty to preserve, protect, and defend America's vital interests.
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Welcome back. Our guest for this broadcast has been attorney Larry Klayman, chairman of Judicial Watch. Larry, if people want to learn more about Judicial Watch, what's the phone number, the address, et cetera.
LARRY KLAYMAN: They can reach us at toll free number 888-JW-ETHIC, and they can write to us at P.O. Box 44444, Washington, D.C. 20026, and we have a website now, Howard: www.judicialwatch.org
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Larry, why don't you, in the couple of minutes left, finish what you were telling us about your investigation into the Commerce Department.
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, it's fascinating because what we really uncovered, as much as what we found and we found evidence that Commerce Department trade missions were being sold for large campaign contributions. People would write in to the Secretary of Commerce saying "my client gave $100,000, he's a close friend of Hillary Clinton, we want him on the trip". Jude Kearney, who is now under investigation even by Reno. I mean this was so blatant, even she had to look into it. He was the one who had Charlie Trie in his office, and he made have had classified information at the time at the Commerce Department. He said "I only pick those that are politically connected". I mean this is how our tax dollars are being spent as a telethon to raise money for Bill Clinton's reelection.
But now we've gotten beyond that. We've gotten into issues of John Huang and Charlie Trie coming in and out of Commerce like a ...
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Tell us again briefly who John Huang is, and who Charlie Trie, the restauranteur, is.
LARRY KLAYMAN: Well, I'm so close--thanks for stopping me.
John Huang is an individual who worked for a group called the Lippo Bank, owned by Chinese interests out of Indonesia, and he took a pay cut of millions of dollars just to come to work for the Commerce Department, and was put in a position where he had access to certain information--national security type information. So, it's very serious, and people need to know what he was doing there. And Charlie Trie, of course, came in and had similar information.
But what's doubly troubling is the fact that the Commerce Department was being used as a staging ground for literally any conceivable illegal activity in the Clinton administration being run by Ron Brown, and then when he died, Mickey Kantor. And now we have another political "glad-hander" in there, Bill Daley. All of these people are master fund-raisers, master crooks so to speak, who have made their livelihood shaking down people for money. And this is an agency which the Republicans, many years ago, talked about eliminating--and yet, now we have supplemental funding going into the Commerce Department. So we're working hard to get more and more information to expose this scandal, so perhaps we may also...
HOWARD PHILLIPS: Larry Klayman, thanks very much for being with us.
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