New paper trail details what Lippo cash bought

New paper trail details what Lippo cash bought – evidence in Lippo Group influence buying allegations

Larry Klayman

A new batch of Commerce DePartment documents finally was released by the Clinton administration to Judicial Watch in Washington. Some of these documents were released more than two-and-a-half years after they were due under a court order. They raise questions of Clinton administration bribery, extortion and the sale of government services to agents of influence for a foreign power. The documents also explain why the Republican-controlled Congress has been uninterested in pursuing the Commerce side of the Clinton fundraising scandal.

One document that screams out for further investigation is a letter dated Nov. 1, 1994, from a Democratic donor to President Clinton. Investment banker and Democratic fundraiser Sanford R. Robertson writes about his participation in a Ron Brown-led trade mission to China earlier that year. Complimenting Brown’s “diplomatic skills” in a meeting with Chinese dictator Li Peng, Robertson wrote that the then commerce secretary “deffly navigated the human-rights issues by obtaining an agreement on further talks and then moved directly into the economic issues at hand: helping Chrysler, Sprint and others with their `joint ventures.'” In other words, Brown shoved aside concerns about human rights to talk money with the butcher of Beijing.

The Robertson letter closes with a smoking-gun postscript: “[Treasury Secretary] Bob Rubin came to our home on Thursday [presumably Sept. 29, 1994] for a [California Democratic Sen.] Dianne Feinstein dinner, which raised over $100,000 for her campaign. Bob, of course, turned out the financial community and Silicon Valley.” We’ve always wondered why Feinstein — as a recipient of Lippo Group contributions, and the reported target of Chinese attempts to influence U.S. elections — never was grilled by her colleagues on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigating the China connection. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that many of the U.S. companies linked to Lippo and other figures in the foreign-money scandal give to both political parties. Robertson and his company, for example, gave generously in 1996 to GOP Sen. Alfonse D’Amato of New York ($1,000) and the Republican National State Elections Committee ($100,000).

The newly released documents show three previously undisclosed occasions when the communist Chinese-backed Lippo Group directly and indirectly benefited from Clinton administration actions.

Testimony before Sen. Fred Thompson’s committee indicated that the Lippo Group is in fact a joint venture of China Resources, a trading and holding company “wholly owned” by the Chinese communist government and used as a front for Chinese espionage operations. China Resources investments in Lippo grew during the course of the Clinton administration, coinciding with illegal six-figure Lippo contributions to Clinton’s cash machine. These contributions seem to not only have bought Lippo employee John Huang a job in the Commerce Department, but special consideration for Lippo business interests at the highest level of the Clinton administration.

The documents indicate that Lippo business partner Mission Energy (now named Edison Mission Energy) received strong Clinton administration support for a $2.6 billion power-plant project in Indonesia. One 1994 document sings the praises of the Indonesian government-backed project — “with its state-of-the-art emissions-control technology and by using low-sulfur Indonesian coal, the project will be on the cleanest, most efficient coal-fired facilities in the world.” As the Lippo conglomerate is a key supplier of low-sulfur Indonesian coal, Clinton’s Lippo Group donors — the Riady family, Huang and Arief and Soraya Wiriadinata — had much to gain from official government support of this Lippo homeland project.

The official mention of “low-sulfur Indonesian coal” also is interesting in light of Clinton’s creation of the 1.7 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, placing off-limits the world’s largest deposit of low-sulfur coal and thereby increasing the value of Lippo’s investments in clean-burning coal deposits in Indonesia. The documents prove the administration was very much aware of the Lippo coal interests that later benefited from Clinton’s decision.

The people of the Beehive State will be outraged to learn that the Clinton administration promoted the coal interests of a foreign Clinton donor while shutting down the development of the Utah coal fields. In light of the new documents it is ludicrous to suggest that no one in the Clinton administration considered the Lippo Group’s interests in keeping the Utah coal off the market — especially since Huang and the Riady family had access to the Oval Office.

Clinton’s Commerce Department also kept hidden a successful attempt by the Lippo Group to gain official U.S. support for a power project in Fujian, China. The Lippo Group is the controlling partner in the project, having as coinvestors America’s Mission Energy and Bechtel Enterprises. Handwritten notes and a Commerce E-mail indicate that Mission Energy representatives met with Commerce officials to discuss the project and that the Lippo Group specifically was mentioned. Huang likely was involved in these discussions or at a minimum assisted in the planning of the trade missions. The Lippo-Mission-Bechtel project also makes use of pulverized coal, no doubt to come from Lippo coal fields in Indonesia.

The Commerce Department E-mail notes that Brown advocated the project during his 1994 trip to China. This trip also saw Clinton administration support for another proposed Lippo power project in China with the Arkansas-based Entergy Corp., another large Clinton contributor. Clinton’s Lippo donors seem to have gotten themselves a twofer on this taxpayer-financed trade trip.

Why hasn’t Mission Energy publicly been asked by the congressional investigative committees about its dealings with the Lippo Group, Huang and the Clinton Commerce Department? Is it because the conglomerate owners of Mission Energy and Bechtel give to Republicans as well as Democrats?

The documents also show how important it was for China-backed Lippo to have its ex-employee and Clinton White House regular Huang in a high-level position at Commerce. Indeed, Huang’s telephone records and reports about his activities from his tenure at Commerce indicate that he was in regular contact with Lippo agents, both foreign (the Riadys) and domestic (Web Hubbell, Mark Middleton, Joe Giroir and Mark Grobmyer).

Another document indicates that Grobmyer involved himself in nuclear-proliferation issues involving Russia and Iran. The Commerce Department produced a copy of an April 30, 1994, fax that Grobmyer sent National Security Council Staff Director Nancy Soderberg reporting on the work of his U.S. Fuel and Security Team. According to a July article in Time magazine, Grobmyer’s project was a “curious plan to buy enriched uranium from Russia and the United States, lease it to utilities worldwide, collect the spent radioactive rods and store them on a tiny volcanic island in steel casks made in, of course, Arkansas.”

Grobmyer recounts how he met Russia’s atomic-energy minister, Viktor Mikhailov, and other unnamed Russians to try to push the deaL According to the faxed memo, in return for being involved with the U.S. Fuel and Security Team, the Russians would agree to “cease or limit the sale of reactors to nations such as Iran, and would agree to store excess plutonium on the proposed site.”

Grobmyer’s scheme eventually was shot down personally by Clinton, but only after Grobmyer made himself a nuisance at the White House by aggressively trying to obtain special White House consideration and environmental waivers for his project. But why was Grobmyer, a Little Rock lawyer whose only credentials seemed to have been with the Lippo Group and Clinton, negotiating nuclear-proliferation issues with the government of Russia?

Why haven’t Republicans raised questions about Grobmyer’s scheme? Was it because Grobmyer’s plan had the backing of former Republican secretary of state James Baker?

One can see that there was good reason for the Commerce Department to hide these damaging documents from the American people and a federal court — they provide more evidence that the China-backed Lippo Group had its tentacles all over the Clinton administration. And the involvement of GOP donors and officials in this influence-peddling explain why this Republican-controlled Congress couldn’t seem to care less about the Commerce-China connections.

Larry Klayman is the chairman of Judicial Watch, a public-interest group in Washington. Tom Fitton is apolitical analyst for America’s Voice cable network.

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