WASHINGTON — The Justice Department prosecutor who FBI officials say
was under “pressure” to throttle back on the Clinton-Gore-Chinese
fund-raising investigation is a personal friend of a lawyer defending
two prime targets of Justice’s probe, WorldNetDaily has learned.
The same Justice official, Lee J. Radek, serves on an American Bar
Association subcommittee with another lawyer, also a friend, who is
defending a third figure in Justice’s special investigation.
What’s more, Radek’s family is tied to a Washington lobbyist who has
pressed the Clinton-Gore White House on behalf of major Democratic
National Committee donors. One of them is ethnic Chinese.
As head of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, Radek has punted on
several requests by FBI Director Louis Freeh and Charles LaBella, the
former head of the campaign-finance task force, to turn the fund-raising
case over to an independent counsel. They’ve argued, among other things,
that Attorney General Janet Reno has an inherent conflict in probing her
But it turns out that Radek, whose office supervises the task force,
may have his own political conflicts. And so may Deputy Attorney General
Eric Holder, who also has been overseeing the day-to-day operations of
Both officials are old friends of Reid Weingarten, the lawyer who’s
defended central figures in the so-called Chinagate scandal involving
illegal foreign donations to the ’96 Clinton-Gore reelection effort.
Among Weingarten’s clients are Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie and Pauline
Trie, an old Arkansas friend of President Clinton, funneled in 1996
hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal gifts to the Clinton-Gore
campaign and the President’s Legal Expense Trust. Many of the funds came
from Beijing-tied sources.
In a Justice plea bargain panned as too generous, Trie got no jail
time and a light fine. He was sentenced in November.
FBI agents have complained that higher-ups at Justice stopped them
from aggressively investigating Trie.
Four career agents in September testified before the Senate that a
search warrant for Trie’s Little Rock, Ark., home was withdrawn at the
last minute. It wasn’t served for three months despite signs that
documents were being destroyed.
Among items found in his trash was a FedEx receipt for a 2-pound
document from the White House. It was sent in May 1997, just as a Senate
panel began to subpoena White House documents tied to its Chinagate
probe. Hearings began in early July 1997.
Weingarten’s other client, DNC fund-raiser Kanchanalak, also has ties
to Beijing and was a White House guest in 1996. Her donations, from
foreign sources, were illegal and were returned — after the election.
Charged in 1998 with relatively minor counts of making false statements
to the Federal Election Commission, she awaits trial.
Weingarten worked for Radek in 1978, when Radek headed Justice’s
newly formed Public Integrity Section under the Carter administration.
Weingarten and Holder were rising stars in the high-profile unit.
Alumni from those days say they’ve all remained close socially. In
fact, Holder and Weingarten once regularly played basketball together.
Since 1987, Weingarten has been with the Washington law firm of
Steptoe & Johnson. Its client list reads like a who’s who of Clinton
administration scandal figures.
Besides Trie and Kanchanalak, Weingarten has also defended former
Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown
and former Teamsters President Ron Carey.
All five cases have come across Radek’s desk. His office has
exclusive jurisdiction over allegations of criminal misconduct by public
officials. It also was charged with administering the Independent
Counsel Act before it recently expired.
Despite his relationship with Weingarten, Radek hasn’t recused
himself from the cases.
LaBella urged that Radek start, under the ICA, a preliminary
investigation of Carey and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Harold
Ickes. Evidence surfaced after the 1996 campaign of a possible
quid-pro-quo scheme — government favors for campaign cash — between
the Teamsters and the White House, along with the DNC. Radek has
rejected requests to assign an independent counsel to probe Ickes,
arguing he wasn’t an official “covered” by the act.
In a 1995 meeting, Radek argued that the independent counsel probing
the Espy case should not pursue certain matters relating to Tyson Foods,
an Arkansas poultry company. At the time, prosecutor Donald Smaltz was
edging closer to Clinton’s own ties to owner Don Tyson. (Smaltz managed
to get a jury to convict one USDA official Radek had sought to protect.)
Radek did recuse himself from the investigation of Interior Secretary
Bruce Babbitt, though. And with good reason.
Asked why Radek backed off the case, Justice spokesman John Russell
said, “Someone involved with the Babbitt investigation is a friend of
his wife’s family.”
“It’s a guy named Pat O’Connor,” Russell told WorldNetDaily after
Patrick J. O’Connor, a heavy Democratic donor and long-time
Washington power broker, is an old friend of Radek’s in-laws — the
Devitts of Chicago, WorldNetDaily research reveals.
In 1995, O’Connor lobbied the White House to get the Interior
Department to squelch an application by a Wisconsin tribe to build a
casino that would have competed with one of his client’s gaming
interests in the area.
A May 8, 1995, letter he wrote to Ickes at the White House sparked
what became a probe into payoff allegations.
“All the representatives of the tribes that met with (DNC) Chairman
(Don) Fowler are Democrats and have been so for years,” O’Connor wrote
of his clients. “I can testify to their previous financial support to
the DNC and the 1992 Clinton-Gore Campaign Committee.”
O’Connor also pressed ’96 Clinton-Gore fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe
for the favor.
Babbitt recently was cleared by an independent counsel after a
19-month probe of his handling of the Indian casino license. (“I have
had no contact with Patrick O’Connor in the course of the Hudson [Wis.,
casino] issue,” Babbitt testified in 1998.)
Another client of O’Connor’s got caught up in the Senate’s Chinagate
NSC meetings and export controls
Eric Hotung, a Hong Kong businessman, paid $140,000 to O’Connor’s
firm in 1997 to lobby to strengthen trade ties between the U.S. and
China-controlled Hong Kong.
The DNC has listed Hotung as a managing trustee, even though he’s not
a U.S. citizen and can’t donate money. What’s more, the DNC helped him
seek a meeting with top National Security Council officials.
Hotung, a 30-year friend of O’Connor, recently acquired property in
the Washington area. In 1997, he bought the McLean, Va., home of Sen.
Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., for a sum curiously far above the asking price.
According to the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, O’Connor’s firm —
O’Connor & Hannan — specializes in “export control” and “international
trade,” among other things. Its Washington office staffs 35 lawyers.
O’Connor is a major DNC donor and has given to the Clinton-Gore
campaigns. He served as the DNC’s treasurer from 1967 to 1971.
In congressional testimony last week, Radek, 57, asserted he’s a
“non-political” career prosecutor.
His deputy at Justice, Joseph Gangloff, insists Radek calls cases
based on the facts and without regard for politics.
“He is so non-political,” Gangloff said in an interview with
WorldNetDaily. “He doesn’t care what the political ramifications of an
In an April 1999, letter to the National Law Journal, Weingarten
called his old pal a “prosecutor’s prosecutor.”
Nancy Luque, who serves with Radek on an American Bar Association
panel on white-collar crime, also vouches for his integrity, saying he
does the “right thing.”
Luque happens to be the defense lawyer for Maria Hsia, a prime target
of the Justice task force under Radek. A jury recently convicted
suspected Beijing agent Hsia of felonies tied to foreign money
laundering at a 1996 Buddhist temple fund-raiser for Vice President Al
Gore. She awaits sentencing.
After various other assignments within main Justice over the years,
Radek was renamed chief of the Public Integrity Section on Jan. 13, 1994
— just weeks before Attorney General Janet Reno tapped independent
counsel Robert Fiske to investigate Whitewater and the Foster case.
Justice criminal division chief Jo Ann Harris elevated Radek. Clinton
appointed Harris to the top crime-fighting spot in 1993.
Harris gained notice by winning a tax-evasion case against Rev. Sun
Myung Moon, founder of the conservative Washington Times. She also was
the special prosecutor who investigated corruption charges at HUD during
the Reagan administration.
Harris, who was a journalist for 14 years before going into law,
stepped down in May 1995. John C. Keeney, Sr., filled in as acting chief
of the criminal division.
Keeney in late 1996 allegedly recused himself from any involvement in
the fund-raising task force.
His son is one of the defense lawyers for John Huang — another
convicted Clinton-Gore fund-raiser who raised more than $1.5 million in
illegal donations, yet got no jail time.
Huang, who has deep ties to Beijing, also got immunity from
prosecution for espionage. His counsel, John C. Keeney, Jr., has also
worked as a DNC lawyer.