Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, has the unfortunate habit of playing to the mainstream media. During his time questioning Attorney General William Barr during Wednesday’s hearings, he played his heart out.
The MSM noted and approved. “Sen. Ben Sasse voiced outrage that Paul Manafort led the Trump campaign after working for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, whom he called a ‘bottom-feed scum sucker,'” crowed the New York Times.
In general, Sasse seemed shocked to learn that foreign governments attempt to invest in Americans of influence and worried that the Chinese would prove more successful at it in the future than the Russians.
Well, Ben, the Chinese already have. In 1977, the year of Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, Mochtar Riady, an ethnic Chinese energy mogul from Indonesia with strong ties to the People’s Republic of China, tried to buy the National Bank of Georgia.
When that deal fell through, he turned his sights on Arkansas and invested in the state’s ambitious governor, Bill Clinton.
Working for Riady was a native of the People’s Republic of China named John Huang. According to the Senate Thompson Committee, Huang was “the political power that advises the Riady Family on issues and where to make contributions.” He recommended putting Riady money on Clinton.
In 1984, the Riadys made their first investment in their new friendship with Clinton. That year the Worthen Bank under Riady management lost tens of millions of dollars of Arkansas state pension funds in a disastrous investment scheme.
Instead of passing the loss along to the state as they were legally entitled to, they ate the loss and saved Clinton’s reputation and career.
In the spring of 1992, when presidential candidate Bill Clinton was facing the critical New York primary without any money to speak of, the Riady clan used its influence with the Worthen Bank to arrange a $3.5 million line of credit.
Shortly after the 1992 convention, candidate Bill Clinton found himself short of crucial cash once again. The Riady family poured $600,000 into the DNC and a number of the state parties in question. Clinton and Gore won five of the six including Georgia and Ohio, both squeakers.
As history has duly recorded, these investments paid off. Bill Clinton rode the crest of his freshly minted post-convention popularity to the presidency, winning 43 percent of the vote in a three-way race that produced the highest voter turn out in 20 years.
On April 19, 1993, Huang and Mochtar’s son James Riady met Clinton in the Oval Office. Riady recalls the day vividly because a television in the corner was showing the Mount Carmel community at Waco in full flame.
Ever gracious, Clinton escorted his guests to the White House situation room to observe key staff then in the throes of mismanaging the crisis.
Huang and Riady also dropped in on Robert Rubin, head of the president’s Economic Council. White House entry logs confirm Riady’s memory and Huang’s multiple visits.
One does not have to be a cynic to suspect Clinton’s discussions with Huang and Riady focused on a decision the president soon would make – renewing most favored nation (MFN) status for the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Although he had blistered George Bush on the campaign trail for supporting MFN status for China, in May 1993, a month after his meeting with Huang and Riady, President Clinton betrayed party liberals and the billion or so people in Mainland China by renewing China’s MFN status.
If that were not enough, Huang got a job at the Commerce Department with security clearance at the highest levels and still kept a secret office across the street where he did his Riady business. He would be briefed 37 times by the CIA on the subject of encryption technology, and still no one can explain why.
I can only scratch the surface here. Space does not allow me to detail how Clinton sacrificed national security time and again to keep the Riadys happy or how he created a national park in Utah to assure the Riadys kept their international monopoly on low-sulfur coal.
After a disastrous first two years in the White House, the Clintons needed money from Riady and other Asian nationals more than ever if they were to be reelected. They did what they had to do to keep the Riadys happy.
The Thompson Committee report provides a useful shorthand for what happened: “The president and his aides demeaned the offices of the president and vice president, took advantage of minority groups, pulled down all the barriers that would normally be in place to keep out illegal contributions, pressured policy makers, and left themselves open to strong suspicion that they were selling not only access to high-ranking officials, but policy as well. Millions of dollars were raised in illegal contributions, much of it from foreign sources.”
Oleg Deripaska? Paul Manafort? C’mon, Ben, time to grow up.