Gavel To Gavel

All the hearings news & analysis

Sen. Thompson's Opening Statement 17:56 min Vxtreme streaming video

Sen. Glenn's Opening Statement 27:53 min Vxtreme streaming video

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Here are some highlights from the first session of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's campaign finance hearings:

'High level Chinese government officials crafted a plan'

"The committee believes that high-level Chinese government officials crafted a plan to increase influence over the U.S. political process. The committee has identified specific steps taken in furtherance of the plan. Implementation of the plan has been handled by Chinese government officials and individuals enlisted to assist in the effort. Activities in furtherance of the plan have occurred both inside and outside the United States. Our investigation suggests that the plan continues today."

-- Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)

'This also may be a very unique and inexpensive opportunity'

"Mr. Chairman, I make this clear: I'm not entirely clear today to take a position of immunity, limited immunity, for Mr. Huang at this point, because I wish to know what the Department of Justice has to say also, even though it is not the controlling factor. Given the fact, however, that Mr. Huang would not be immune from prosecution for espionage or the unauthorized transfer of classified information and would also be subject to prosecution for perjury, I believe this also may be a very unique and inexpensive opportunity to inform ourselves and the American people about an issue that has been of serious concern to all of us."

-- Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio)

'My feeling is that there is no such thing as limited immunity'

"He has made us an offer here for what he calls limited immunity. The only problem with that is that he is asking us for something that we probably legally cannot give him. I have not had a chance to research the law on this but my feeling is that there is no such thing as limited immunity -- that you can have immunity for one set of laws and not immunity for another set of laws, that you either have immunity or you don't. Now it might be that we might under some circumstances want to give him complete immunity. But of course in order for that, Senator Glenn and I have discussed, he would need to come in and make a proffer."

-- Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)

'Serious looks at how our government is working'

"[These hearings] are not trials where people are prosecuted. They are not soap operas that are designed to titillate. And they are not athletic events where we have a running score. Rather, these hearings are serious looks at how our government is working, how our government is operating, and its designed at the end towards seeing if we can't make our system, make our government, work even better."

-- Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)

'A story of greed and trust betrayed'

"On one level this is an extremely complex story -- the story of a multi-millionaire and his Hong Kong corporation, the desperate cash-strapped Republican Party, and how they combined to finance the Contract With America in 1994, and then two years later to infuse the Republican Party with nearly three quarters of a million dollars in foreign money. And it's also a simple story -- a story of greed and trust betrayed, as I see it. The national chairman who betrayed the trust of the a wealthy foreign donor, his own party and the American people. ... This story, as far as I know right now, is the only one so far, where the head of a national political party knowingly and successfully solicited foreign money, infused it into the election process, and intentionally tried to cover it up."

-- Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio)

'The allegations are extremely serious'

"The allegations are extremely serious. ... There apparently was a systematic influx of illegal money in our presidential race last year. We will be wanting to know: Who knew about it? Who should have known about it? And was there an attempt to cover it up?"

-- Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.)

'An accident waiting to happen'

"If it is however established that, as suspected by you and other members of the committee, that the Chinese government contributed funds to the Democratic or Republican national parties, if the policy influenced of this country and our interests were compromised, I begin this hearing by simply suggesting to my colleagues, this is a problem that we Americans in some measure brought upon ourselves. The American campaign finance system has been an accident waiting to happen."

-- Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.)

'A lot of the major players are fleeing'

"A lot of the major players are fleeing. That is not cooperation; that is a mass exodus in hopes that maybe this hearing will blow over at the end of the year."

-- Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.)

'All you need is a checkbook'

"In these hearings, I am afraid that we will find evidence that you don't have to carry a military weapon to be a foreign or domestic enemy of the United States and its Constitution. All you need is a checkbook."

-- Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)

'It carries a life sentence'

"The proposed immunity grant to Mr. Huang is really fascinating for many reasons. He had at least 37 briefings by the CIA and he saw a number of documents which they can't even tell us, which raises a real question about our super-spies -- don't even know what they have done and they can tell us only as to 15 documents where he made comments. And I reviewed those and they are highly sensitive. They deal in sources and methods. They are matters we would not tell the Brits [British] or our closest allies, and yet the CIA made those available to Mister John Huang. And shortly after he saw those he went to an outside office and made faxes and made telephone calls and visited the Chinese embassy with all the earmarks of disclosure of highly sensitive governmental information, which is espionage. And it carries a life sentence and in some cases it could carry the death penalty."

-- Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)

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