Here are some highlights from Thursday's session of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's campaign finance hearings:
'Perfectly legal, ethical and proper'
"During my 3 1/2 years with Commerce I was invited to the White House to meet with President Bush exactly zero times. In my experience it was most unusual for a deputy assistant secretary to have the occasion to visit with the president."
"Numerous nationally prominent campaign finance lawyers reviewed this transaction and deemed it perfectly legal, ethical and proper in all respects. This was a transaction that was conducted in the full light of day, with the most extensive legal review that I have ever seen for a transaction of comparable value."
"I was told first and it was always emphasized by my good friend Dan Denning, that he needed funds for his ongoing operations at the NPF [National Policy Forum] ... Yes, we also discussed that the RNC was very interested in seeing that the NPF repaid the loan so that the RNC could utilize those funds in aprropriate ways during the 1994 election cycle."
"Yes, I remember telling Mr. Barbour, Mr. Fierce and Mr. Denning that this money would be coming from the Hong Kong corporation through the U.S. corporation as a loan to the U.S. corporation and that it would put up as the collateral for the loan guarantee."
-- Fred Volcansek, Republican fund-raiser
"So far we haven't had anybody who had any direct personal knowledge of where those funds went. Presumably Mr. Barbour will be able to address that, and I am personally interested in that, if in fact those monies were funneled through the party and out to the states during these campaigns, that is very disturbing and we need to know that."
-- Sen. Fred Thompson, on what happened to money that the forum repaid to the Republican National Committee
'The impact was the same'
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.):"The result of the collateral that you arranged to be put up was that a million-and-a-half dollars went to the RNC for use in the 1994 election. I am not alleging illegality here ..."
Volcansek: "Yes, sir, I understand."
Lieberman: "But the impact was the same. And I can't help but believe Dan Denning must have been under tremendous pressure not only to raise his operating cost, because those would continue on, but the immediate pressure in the spring of '94 was get that money back to the RNC so we can plow it into the election of '94."
'Trying to smear me'
"The first and most important fact ... is that everything the National Policy Forum did was legal and proper. Everything. And everything about the Republican National Committee's relationship with the National Policy Forum was legal and proper."
"To be candid and since I am under oath to tell you the truth, I have to tell you I don't appreciate some people have decided their interests are served by attempting to run down the Republicans and trying to smear me. I understand politics a little bit. And I recognize everybody does it defense when I see it. What I don't understand is some people's willingness to attack others, even if they have to ignore or embellish the facts to do it. And I resent that.""Although the source of funds makes no difference to the legality of these transactions, to the best of my recollection, I only found out this year that YBD USA [Young Brothers Development U.S.A.] had used funds borrowed from Hong Kong to collaterize the Signet Bank loan. Again, that made no difference to the legality of any of the transaction, but as best I recall, I learned about it this year."
-- Haley Barbour, former Republican National Committee chairman
'Figure Out How We Can Work Together'
"What is important for us to do is figure out how we can work with them. We have already agreed to immunity for 11 witnesses. For nine others we've said at this point in time we cannot agree. That doesn't mean we might not ultimately agree, but it is really very important that we work together recognizing that we each have two separate roles and that we're each trying the best we can to perform those roles in the proper fashion."
"What I try to do is take the evidence and pursue it the best way I know how. I have been criticized in the past for immunizing people in my prosecutorial career. I've been told I've either made mistakes or did it for some ulterior motive. Again, we can't go into all the reasons because of grand jury testimony and the like but it's important we do it in the right way. We will continue to work with the committee and all concerned. If there comes a point in time where the evidence triggers the independent counsel statute, as I have said, I will do so."
-- Attorney General Janet Reno at her weekly news briefing, commenting on committee members' criticism about Justice opposition to immunity for some prospective witnesses
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