Report: Illegal Clinton Fundraiser Made Videotape Because He Feared Being Assassinated

Bill and Hillary Clinton in Arkansas, 1991 / AP

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Johnny Chung, a Chinese-American businessman, recorded videotaped testimony about his involvement in funneling money from Chinese government officials into former President Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign because he feared being assassinated, according to a new report.

The Daily Mail obtained excerpts of a video of Chung from author and historian Doug Wead for his new book Game of Thorns. The book outlines Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign failures and the Chinese government's long-running scheme to buy political influence in Washington, D.C.

The video was recorded while Chung was in hiding in 2000. Chung, a former Clinton fundraiser, filmed the video with the help of Bob Abernethy, a friend from his church. He then smuggled the video to trusted friends and family, telling them to release the tape to the media "in the event of his untimely death," the Daily Mail reported.

Chung appeared to fear being assassinated by people involved in the money scheme tied to either the Clintons or Beijing.

According to Wead, Chung filmed the "insurance" video after a former U.S. government official visited him while he was in hiding. The official told Chung that his "odds of survival actually increased by going public."

In the video, Chung reportedly described how he feared for his life after going public with information about Chinese officials funneling money into Bill Clinton's 1996 reelection campaign.

"He also claimed Democrats pressured him to stay silent about his dealings with the Clintons and said the FBI tried to enlist him in a sting against a top Chinese general at a Los Angeles airport," the Daily Mail reported.

Chung was a key part of the "Chinagate" scandal in the mid-1990s, when evidence came to light that the Chineses government was funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into Clinton's reelection campaign through American straw donors.

Chung was accused of handing over $300,000 to the Democratic National Committee on behalf of the head of Chinese military intelligence during Clinton's 1996 presidential run.

Chung had a close relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton at the time, according to the Daily Mail.

In total he visited the White House 57 times in a two-year span–eight of these meetings were "off the books."

Most of the meetings were with Hillary Clinton or her staff. During one of these trips, Chung personally handed a $50,000 check to Hillary Clinton's chief of staff Maggie Williams.

Chung even helped arrange for Bill Clinton to meet with the source of the money–a top Chinese military official–at a Los Angeles fundraiser.

Chung ended up cooperating with the Department of Justice during the investigation. In 1998, he was sentenced to five years of probation for campaign finance violations, bank fraud, and tax evasion.

During testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform, Chung claimed that the Clintons "used me as much as I used them."

Democrats on the House committee attempted to keep him quiet, the Daily Mail noted.

Chung described on the tape how Democrats on the House Committee on Government Reform tried to dissuade him from testifying publicly before the committee by sending his attorney a letter telling him he could plead the Fifth Amendment.

Chung said his attorney thought the letter was "ludicrous" and a veiled threat from Washington Democrats that they wanted Chung to stay quiet.

[…]

After Chung agreed to cooperate with prosecutors on the Chinagate investigation, he feared his knowledge of the Clinton campaign finance scandal and the Chinese influence operation could make him a target for assassination.

The FBI in Los Angeles, where Chung lived, provided him with 24-hour protection leading up to his testimony before a grand jury. But a few days before Chung's testimony, he lost his protection services from the FBI. The agency's headquarters in Washington had called off the protection detail. Chung was told he would have to make the trip alone to testify.

The videotape revealed that Chung claimed a U.S. attorney told him to call 911 if he felt his life was in danger.

"I called the FBI office and offered to [speak with] the U.S. assistant attorney again on the phone," Chung said in the videotape. "And he said, ‘Mr. Chung your case is over. As a normal American citizen what do you do if you feel your life is in danger? You just call 911.'"

U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real, who presided over the case in federal court, said the leaders of the DNC were "two of the dumbest politicians I've ever seen" regarding their claim of being unaware of the campaign scheme.

Chung is believed to still be alive and living in China, according to the Daily Mail.

Madeleine Weast

Madeleine Weast   Email Madeleine | Full Bio | RSS
Madeleine Weast is Assistant Social Media Editor for the Washington Free Beacon. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 2014. Prior to joining the Beacon, she was a Communications Fellow at The Charles Koch Institute. Madeleine is from Prairie Village, Kansas and lives in Washington, D.C. Her Twitter handle is @MadeleineWeast.

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