By Steve Wampler
Since he became involved in the Chinagate scandal, Johnny Chung has lived
a life usually found in a Tom Clancy novel.
A Taiwanese-born American citizen, Chung became intertwined in the Chinagate
political and national security scandal in 1994 when he started making
donations to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton-Gore
More than 100 witnesses to this scandal, including DNC donors and even
former members of the Clinton Administration, have taken the Fifth Amendment
or fled the country. Johnny Chung, in the view of insiders close to the
scandal, is one of the few - if not the only - witness who is telling
the truth and telling it fully.
On his website (johnnychung.com), Chung tells of his 18-year-old daughter
asking him: "Dad, whether you like it or not, this is a part of American
history. What are you going to do with it?"
In response, he said: "I will set the record straight, and I will come
out and tell the whole truth. I made a mistake. I have paid a huge price.
But I think the American people deserve to know the whole truth."
Chung's life is the story of an immigrant who started working as a Holiday
Inn busboy in the San Gabriel Valley in 1983. Little more than a decade
later, he was dining at the White House and on a first-name basis with
the President of the United States.
"I feel like a Forest Gump," said Chung, referring to the fictional movie
character who ends up in unusual encounters with historical figures.
In the early 1990's, he opened a company that provided mass fax distributions
for government and corporate clients. Chung started making donations to
the DNC to obtain access to the Clinton White House and other political
contacts. He soon found himself sucked into the whirlpool of Chinagate.
Among the events that happened to him:
- The head of China's military intelligence agency gave Chung money to
donate to Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign;
- Chung ultimately provided $366,000 in donations to the DNC, visited
the White House 57 times and saw Clinton on other occasions outside the
- Top officials of the DNC asked a federal judge to "throw the
book" at him;
- Chung has survived three assassination attempts, including two believed
to be by hit squads from China;
- worked undercover for four months for the FBI, wore a body wire and
received round-the-clock FBI protection for three weeks for himself and
- Last month, U.S. government authorities told Chung that he must inform
them before he gives radio or television interviews, or public speeches
about his role in the White House's military, espionage and political
Chung has opened an incredible window into the heart of the Chinagate
scandal that has been shrouded by scores of non-cooperating witnesses,
obstruction of justice by the Justice Department, and outright stonewalling
by congressional Democrats. The most direct links of China's efforts to
influence America's elections were revealed by Chung.
Thanks to Chung's grand jury testimony, the American people know that
two of Bill Clinton's long-time friends and chief 1996 fund-raisers -
Charlie Yah Lin Trie and John Huang - had direct links to China's People's
Liberation Army. Chung has also provided investigators with dozens of
other critical facts and key links of Democrats to China.
In August 1996, Chung had dinner in Hong Kong with Gen. Ji Shengde,who
was then the chief of China's military intelligence agency. During dinner,
General Ji told Chung: "We like your president. I will give you 300,000
U.S. dollars. You can give it to the president and the Democratic Party.
We hope he will be re-elected."
Away from General Ji, Chung later told Liu Chaoying, a lieutenant colonel
in the Chinese military intelligence apparatus, that he didn't want to
take money from General Ji. But, then in one of the most significant disclosures
of Chinagate scandal to date, Lt. Col. Liu informed Chung that the Chinese
were already engaged in similar transactions with other people who were
acting as conduits for Chinese money to financially support Clinton's
According to Chung, he met with General Ji on two additional occasions.
Two days after their initial meeting, General Ji instructed Lt. Col.Liu
in front of Chung that he would wire her the money and she should forward
it to Chung. "I need a receipt so I can report to the (intelligence) organization,"
he said. Liu and Chung were, at one time, partners in a business.
In other words, GOP Senator Fred Thompson's statement - made at the start
of his July 1997 hearings into campaign fund-raising -- that "high-level
Chinese government officials" had entered into America's political process,
were right on target. His words were ridiculed at that time by Democratic
Senators John Glenn, Carl Levin and Robert Torricelli.
Increasingly detailed information, with more links to the Chinese government,
surfaced between May and August 1998 when FBI agents secretly recorded
or videotaped eleven phone conversations and nine meetings between Chung
and Robert Luu, whom Fox News described as a suspected Chinese intelligence
During a November radio interview, Chung recalled that Luu urged him to
keep quiet about the Chinagate scandal, saying that if he did he would
be able to "retire in style." However, if Chung talked, Luu said everything
would be out of control. Luu then immediately - and ominously - asked
Chung about his wife and his family.
Chung had also been warned by Luu, above all else, not to inform U.S.
law enforcement authorities about U.S. satellite firms, Loral Space and
Hughes Electronics, or their relationship with Lt. Col. Liu, a ranking
official with China Aerospace, whose firm sent American satellites into
orbit on Chinese rockets and had arranged their Chinese contracts. Lt.
Col. Liu, who attended two Clinton fund-raisers, uses her work with China
Aerospace as a cover for her job as a military intelligence officer, or
It was Loral Space and Hughes Electronics, say U.S. officials, thatshared
data and advanced rocket technologies with China after the 1996 explosion
of a Chinese rocket carrying a U.S. satellite. The Pentagon found that
the dataassisted China in improving the reliability of its strategic missiles
and that the transfer harmed U.S. national security.
President Clinton later approved a technology waiver for the very same
technology the two firms were accused of furtively transferring to China
even though national security documents held that Loral's actions were
"criminal, likely to be indicted, knowing and unlawful." (Loral Space
Systems' chairman, Bernard Schwartz was the no. 1 contributor to the Democrats
in 1996 and 1998, funneling in about $2.2 million through himself, his
family and associates.)
According to Chung, an employee of Hughes Aerospace admitted to Chung
in China that Hughes turned over sensitive missile data to the Chinese
communists after a Chinese rocket had failed because that was the only
way Hughes could get insurance money for its losses.
Probably the most startling revelation of the Chung-Luu transcripts was
made public on May 24, 1999 when Fox News reporter Carl Cameron broke
a story that suggested President Clinton and China's President Jiang Zemin
may have agreed on a "cover story" for the Chinagate scandal. Most of
the national press corps - except for the Wall Street Journal, The Rush
Limbaugh Show and a few other outlets - ignored the story.
During a phone conversation tapped by the FBI, Chung was told by Luu to
say that the campaign money he received from China came from the so-called
princelings, the Chinese leaders' adult sons and daughters who live, work
and study in the West.
A transcript of the FBI wiretap, secured by Fox News, included
the following exchange:
Luu: "Shove the blame on the shoulders of the princelings."
Chung: "So blame it on the princelings. Do not implicate the Chinese government."
Luu: "Yes, Chairman Jiang agreed to handle it like this; the president
over here also agreed."
As both Clinton and Jiang were in the U.S. when the call occurred, the
words - "the president over here also agreed" - could indicate that both
men had agreed how to spin the story.
Chung's undercover operation with Luu ended abruptly when Luu flatly told
him that he knew he was being taped by the FBI and even knew the radio
frequency the FBI was using. One can only wonder how this information
reached an apparent messenger for the People's Republic of China.
Chung has learned first-hand the dangers of telling the story of the Chinagate
scandal - both from the Chinese government and from apparent retaliation
by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Administration.
Chung has survived three assassination attempts, including two believed
to be by hit squads from China. For three weeks during May and June of
1998, Chung, his wife and three children were kept under round-the-clock
protection by teams of heavily-armed FBI agents - more than 40 of them
- in hotels near Los Angeles International Airport.
The most recent attempt on Chung's life came on March 20, 1999 when a
man arrived at his office and started pounding on his door "like a crazy
man." The stranger, who had been asking people in the Chinagate witness'
building how to find him, had a gun in his back pocket.and was foiled
by an FBI agent.
Immediately after the incident, with the FBI deciding he needed physical
protection, Chung was taken to a hotel without being allowed to stop at
his home. FBI agents picked up his wife and children and brought them
to the hotel.
However, the very next day the Reno Justice Department overruled the FBI
and pulled Chung's protection. In turn, the U.S. Attorney's Office in
Los Angeles responded to Chung about what he should do if he was in danger:
"Mr. Chung, your case is over. So if you are a normal citizen what would
you do? You just call 911."
When Judicial Watch, a conservative legal foundation, went before a federal
judge to seek reinstatement of the protection for Chung, a Clinton Justice
Department attorney interrupted, saying: "He (Chung) doesn't need any
Chung doesn't agree. Earlier this year, in a Fox News interview, he said:
"I always look back over my shoulder. I feel like it's a dangerous business
to tell the truth."
Beyond the threats to his physical safety, Chung has also encountered
harassment and intimidation from the DNC and the Clinton Administration.
In December 1998, Chung was sentenced to five years of probation and 3,000
hours of community service after pleading guilty to bank fraud, tax evasion
and conspiracy charges and his admission of skirting individual limits
As Chung - the Chinagate case's most significant cooperating witness -
was due to be sentenced, his judge, District Judge Manuel Real, received
a letter from Democratic Party officials asking for Chung to receive the
maximum sentence - 37 years in prison and $1.45 million in fines.
"When (the court) got ready to sentence me, the DNC wrote a letter to
my sentencing judge, Judge Real, portraying themselves as a victim. They
were 'victimized' by Johnny Chung. So they asked the judge to throw the
book at my face," Chung said.
Judge Real, who was appointed to the bench in 1966 by President Lyndon
Johnson, reviewed the transcripts of Chung's grand jury testimony before
sentencing the Southern California resident.
And he was blunt in his assessment. After offering a searing criticism
of Attorney General Janet Reno's handling of the campaign finance scandal,
Judge Real stated he was "surprised that the Attorney General has eschewed
appointment" of an independent counsel. At an earlier hearing, he said:
"What I think is that Mr. Chung is going into the tank for someone else,
but I don't know who that someone is."
Judge Real also made it clear he was not buying the DNC's portrayal of
itself as a victim. Pointing to Donald Fowler, the former chairman of
the DNC, and Richard Sullivan, the committee's former finance director,
the judge added: "If Mr. Fowler and Mr. Sullivan didn't know what was
going on, I think they are the dumbest politicians I've ever seen."
An incident cited in the Campaign Finance Investigation Interim Report
of the House Government Reform & Oversight Committee supports Chung's
view. In a Nov. 10, 1995 memo, the DNC's Ari Swiller asked Fowler to call
Chung saying: "Johnny committed to contribute $75,000 to the DNC reception
in Los Angeles on September 21. Tell him if he does not complete his commitment
ASAP bad things will happen."
According to Chung, Fowler made jokes about his dealings with Lt. Col.
Liu and admitted he knew that he was interacting with a lieutenant colonel
in the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
Last October, Chung spoke at a Judicial Watch dinner about his work with
the FBI's undercover Chinagate operation and how that led to three attempts
on his life. Less than 48 hours after completing his speech, Chung was
hit with a $51,000 tax lien from the California Franchise Tax Board.
In December, even though his case had already been settled by a federal
court, the Federal Elections Commission levied $127,000 in new fines against
Chung. No such actions are believed to have been taken against long-timepresidential
friends Charlie Trie and John Huang, whom many believe received "sweetheart"
deals from the Clinton Justice Department.
In another December development - on Dec. 8 - Chung was ordered toinform
U.S. government authorities of any plans he has for speeches, interviewsor
public appearances where he might discuss his role in the White House's
Chinagate scandal and its ties to the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
Like other acts of intimidation directed against Chung, this form of censorship
has attracted virtually no media attention in the mainstream press. In
a nation with a First Amendment, one can only wonder under which law the
Clinton Administration asserts the right to be informed of an American
citizen's media interviews or public speeches, especially when it has
no current case against him.
In a speech later that week, Chung said: "Sometimes I cannot stop wondering
why the American president is in the Chinese back pocket. I see that anything
China's government asks, this White House, this Administration, they always
give it to them. I wonder why."
Chung has publicly asked why his banking records that he turned over to
the Clinton Justice Department showing fund transfers from the Chinese
military to his bank accounts - and then for some of these funds to be
sent to the Clinton political operation at the DNC - have not been turned
over to Congress.
Chung's assertion about his banking records not being given to the Congress
is supported by Chicago attorney David Schippers, who headed the impeachment
probe for the House Judiciary Committee. "DOJ (the Clinton Department
of Justice) put up a brick wall. We had zero cooperation from DOJ. We
records on Johnny Chung," Schippers said in a November 1999 interview
with WorldNetDaily, an Internet news service.
For his part, Chung said he has been fully cooperative with the Justice
Department and the FBI. Washington insiders confirm his story.
In the view of Ed Timperlake, co-author of the Chinagate best-seller "Year
of the Rat," "Johnny Chung is a man who is trying to do the right thing
and has stood up against the People's Republic of China and the Clinton
Administration at great peril. He is to be commended."
The Washington Times, in its Aug. 19, 1999 edition, shared that assessment,
saying: "The reality is that Chung, a convicted felon, is more credible
than the Democratic Party and President Clinton."
"I give them all the information I have," Chung said. "But I haven't seen
anything come out to the light yet. I'm doing the right thing this time.
I keep talking."
Thankfully, at least Johnny Chung is telling the story of Chinagate. Every
American should be asking why our President isn't listening or talking
about what Chung has to say.