Communist China Said To
Have Given $300,000 To
Clinton's 1996 Campaign
Wolf Blitzer
CNN Senior White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A controversial former Democratic Party fund-raiser has told federal investigators that China's chief of military intelligence funneled $300,000 through him to back President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, CNN has confirmed.
Johnny Chung has told investigators that Gen. Ji Shengde ordered the money transferred to Chung's bank account with the specific objective of helping Clinton's campaign, according to sources familiar with his testimony.
The sources say only a portion of the money ever made it into Democratic Party coffers.
Federal law prohibits financial contributions to political campaigns from sources outside of the United States.
Word of direct involvement of a high-ranking Chinese official in Chung's fund-raising activities, first reported Sunday by The Los Angeles Times, comes on the eve of a visit to Washington this week by Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy denied the allegation, insisting his government was not involved in the American election.
White House spokesman Jim Kennedy said that the administration has no knowledge about the source of Chung's donations to the Democratic Party. He declined to comment further, citing "allegations regarding intelligence matters."
"The White House is appropriately briefed on national security matters," he added.
Citing an "ongoing investigation," Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also refused to comment on the allegations during an appearance Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Chung, a Taiwan-born American citizen, contributed some $400,000 to various Democratic campaigns and visited the Clinton White House about 50 times. Sources tell CNN that he was introduced to Ji by the daughter of another high-ranking Chinese military officer, Liu Chaoying.
Last year, Chung pleaded guilty to election law violations and began cooperating with the Justice Department's investigation into alleged 1996 campaign fund-raising irregularities. In December, he was sentenced to probation and community service.