Timeline April '97
April 1, 1997 -- Reports surface about a series of money transfers in increments of $50,000 and $100,000 from the Bank of China to Clinton associate Charlie Trie during 1995 and 1996, when Trie was bringing in contributions to the Democratic National Committee. The source of the bank transfers, the amounts and the exact dates were unclear.
April 2, 1997 -- A second batch of Harold Ickes' papers are released to the press. While not containing a proverbial "smoking gun," the documents show that Democratic party officials urged that the president, vice president and their respective wives make fund-raising calls. The papers also show the DNC's 1996 budget contained $1 million for potential fines by the Federal Election Commission.
April 8, 1997 -- The Washington Post reports the White House improperly distributed top-secret intelligence to the Democratic National Committee to block the invitation of a Latvian businessman with alleged Russian organized crime connections to a fund-raising dinner with the president. Clinton tells reporters that inquiries made so far into the charges give "no basis to believe it was done," but that further investigation of this "serious allegation" would take place.
April 11, 1997 -- Documents show the DNC moved large soft money donations through state Democratic parties to obscure their origins. Questions are raised about a large donation from a CEO made shortly after a key Justice Department ruling. New Harold Ickes documents suggest Al Gore was informed that an April 1996 event at a Buddhist temple was a fund-raiser.
April 15, 1997 -- In a written response to senators, Janet Reno again rebuffs demands for an independent counsel. Two days later, she shrugs off criticism, saying, "I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't."
April 16, 1997 -- Reports indicate that House Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) received some 84 percent of his campaign donations from out-of-state sources, including various overseas donors. Burton's attorney, Joseph diGenova, counters that "all of those people giving donations, including anti-communist Cubans and Nicaraguans, Pakistanis and Sikhs who view him as a savior, are making legal contributions. We're delighted to have them and wish they would have given him more."
April 23, 1997 -- Campaign watchdog group Common Cause president Ann McBride criticizes Attorney General Janet Reno for her interpretation of law governing so-called "soft money." "If the Department of Justice allows these practices to go unchallenged, they will become commonplace in future elections, and the department will be writing out of existence fundamental anti-corruption statutes that have been on the books for decades," McBride said.
April 24, 1997 -- In the first specific indication of what Indonesian business interests may have sought in return for political donations, The New York Times reports that the Riady family wanted to buy a U.S. bank, but abandoned the plan after becoming embroiled in the probe into overseas contributions to the Democrats.
April 25, 1997 -- The Washington Post reports that federal investigators have evidence that "top" Chinese officials approved plans in 1995 to spend up to $2 million on a "government sanctioned" effort to influence U.S. politicians and elections.
April 29, 1997 -- On a visit to Washington, China's foreign minister Qian Qichen, denies allegations of Chinese efforts to influence U.S. elections. "I believe it's very unusual for people to see political contributions and money politics in the United States; however, they have nothing to do with China."
April 29, 1997 -- House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) takes to the House floor to complain that the White House is stonewalling on subpoenaed documents.
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