Timeline February '97
Feb. 3, 1997 -- Former Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes comes under fire after CNN obtains a memo showing Ickes advised a major DNC contributor, Warren Meddoff, on how he might best distribute more than $1 million in contributions, and how he might receive beneficial tax treatment. Ickes later says he shouldn't have used a government fax machine and telephone, but that he didn't violate any laws.
Feb. 4, 1997 -- A Justice Department subpoena of an Arkansas businessman provides first indication that the Clinton Administration is a focus of Justice's investigation.
Feb. 5, 1997 -- The White House concedes that President Clinton had stamped "The President Has Seen" on a memo listing attendees at a White House coffee that included the comptroller of the currency, DNC national chairman Don Fowler and finance chairman Marvin Rosen.
Feb. 13, 1997 -- Clinton calls for a "vigorous" and "thorough" investigation into reports that representatives of the People's Republic of China tried to direct financial contributions from foreign sources to the DNC. Rep. Gerald Solomon tells reporters, "The potential finding is that our foreign policy has been sold for a price, national security has been sold for a price."
Feb. 14, 1997 -- The White House releases documents suggesting it ignored warnings from the National Security Council that DNC fund-raisers' trips to Asia might jeopardize U.S. foreign policy. Particular concern was raised about DNC Managing Trustee Johnny Chung, who gave $366,000 to the DNC, and pressed Clinton for assistance in his efforts to free Chinese-American human rights activist Harry Wu. NSC called Chung a "hustler" and his mission "very troubling." Documents also showed NSC's concerns about Gore attending an event at a Buddhist Temple in California last April were ignored.
Feb. 16, 1997 -- The Washington Post reports that six months after Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Guam in September 1995, residents of the commonwealth donated nearly $900,000 to the DNC. The White House denied that a subsequent change in Guam's immigration policy was connected in any way.
Feb. 16, 1997 -- House Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) issues 20 subpoenas and announces plans to interview more than 500 people.
Feb. 20, 1997 -- Asian-American businessman alleges Huang pressured him to funnel more than $250,000 to the Democratic National Committee by pretending the money was contributions from the his group's members. Huang's lawyer denies the charge. Records show Huang went on fund-raising trips while still a Commerce employee.
Feb. 21, 1997 -- The newly installed DNC head, Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, concedes that following an audit, the DNC will return another $1 million in questionable contributions.
Feb. 21, 1997 -- Huang and Webster Hubbell refuse to provide documents to congressional investigators, citing the Fifth Amendment. Reports surface Huang has asked for partial immunity in return for cooperation.
Feb. 27, 1997 -- Janet Reno tells reporters the fund-raising controversy has not yet crossed the threshold she needs to appoint an independent counsel. "As recently as last week [Justice Department attorneys] have advised me that it does not rise to the level and the standards provided for in the independent counsel statute," Reno says. "When it does, I will follow the law of the statute."
Feb. 28, 1997 -- The Democratic Party says it will return another $1.5 million in improper or questionable contributions it received from 77 donors during the 1996 election cycle. Gov. Roy Romer, the party's general chairman, calls it "a serious amount," but "a small percentage of the overall amount raised." Separately, documents released by former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes reveal a strategy to reward donors, including "better coordination on appointments to boards and commissions."
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