Starr's China Connection | February 4, 1999
Jeremy Reynalds

WASHINGTON -- A Miami lawyer is seeking the removal of Kenneth Starr as independent counsel because Starr, at the same time he was investigating the Clintons, worked for a company wholly owned by the Chinese government.
"This is one of the most egregious examples of conflict of interest and ethics violations I have seen,” lawyer Jack Thompson said, explaining his motion seeking Starr’s ouster. The motion was filed this week with Attorney General Janet Reno, a federal ethics official, and the three-judge panel that appointed Starr. 

In his motion, Thompson claims that Starr violated the conflict of interest provisions of the Office of Independent Counsel law. 

According to the 1994 independent counsel statute, only the attorney general can remove a court-appointed independent counsel. 

Thompson said he also filed the motion with the three-judge panel that appointed Starr "because there is nothing in the law prohibiting them from finding Starr violated conflict of interest rules.” 

Thompson also has requested the panel use its power to order his motion appended to all reports Starr has filed or will file with the court.

Specifically, Thompson notes that at the same time Starr was independent counsel he served as a paid legal counsel to CitiSteel, a Delaware steel company wholly owned by CITIC. CITIC -- or the Chinese International Trust and Investment Company -- is considered the financial arm of China’s People’s Liberation Army and is chaired by Wang Jun.

According to court records, Starr represented CitiSteel in a case before a federal appellate court. Starr argued that the new Chinese owners were lawful when, after they bought the company, CITIC refused to recognize the company’s union. The court agreed with Starr and the Chinese owners in a ruling issued in 1995. 

Wang Jun is a shadowy, high-level communist official who also is chairman of Poly Group, another enterprise controlled by China’s PLA. Poly Group was mired in controversy in 1996 when it was revealed that Wang Jun had met Bill Clinton at the White House. Days after the meeting, the administration moved to waive customs restrictions and allowed the company to import semiautomatic rifles into the United States. 

Thompson said the Chinese connection raises so many questions about Starr's "independence" that Starr should be removed from office.

In his motion to Reno, Thompson wrote, "You should treat as a red flag the fact that Ken Starr, a man reputed to be highly sensitive to any appearance of improprieties by the OIC, did not even alert you to this Chinese connection. This is very troubling." 

Thompson, a conservative Republican who once opposed Reno in an election for the post of Miami-Dade’s prosecutor, reminded Reno that the independent counsel statute prohibits Starr from representing "in any matter any person involved in any investigation or prosecution under this chapter."

"It has been widely publicized that Wang Jun attended a White House fundraising 'coffee' for Clinton, that the Chinese government made efforts to help the Clinton-Gore '96 campaign. And it is also clear that Starr was on Wang Jun’s payroll at the same time he was supposed to be prosecuting the Clintons,” Thompson told

Press reports have indicated widespread attempts by the Chinese government to influence the American electoral process. The Washington Post has reported that the FBI concluded the Chinese funneled millions of dollars to Democratic National Committee coffers during the 1996 election. 

"The Year of the Rat," a 1998 book authored by two former House investigators who examined campaign finance abuses, details close ties between the Chinese and Bill Clinton -- ties dating back to his days as governor of Arkansas. 

Thompson’s motion also notes that Starr’s China connection raises another conflict in the person of Webster Hubbell.

"There is a Starr indictment pending against your former No. 3 person at Justice, Mr. Webster Hubbell, for alleged receipt of $600,000 in hush money and failure to pay federal income taxes thereon. It is alleged that much of this hush money to Mr. Hubbell was paid by the Indonesian Riady family. The Riadys have direct ties to the ... People's Liberation Army arms merchant, Wang Jun."

Thompson said that, while Starr may be willing to "inconvenience" Clinton by pushing the Lewinsky case, there's an even more important issue to consider. With an obvious conflict of interest, is he willing to "inconvenience" his client, Wang Jun?

"To be more direct, if the money trail leads from Hubbell to the Riadys to Wang Jun, the American people deserve, and the statute specifically mandates, an independent counsel unfettered and not compromised by loyalties to clients in following that money trail," Thompson wrote to Reno.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Independent Counsel said that Starr had no comment on Thompson’s actions. 

Thompson agrees that Starr has made a serious effort to prosecute the president on the Lewinsky matter, but added that the independent counsel’s performance has been less than stellar. 

"You have to remember, Starr never really received Monica’s cooperation against the president. So his case that Clinton obstructed justice is a weak one. If the Senate doesn’t convict, Starr may have put us on a wild, sexual goose chase.

"Starr has had many areas to investigate, from the death of Vincent Foster, the Whitewater matter, the Travelgate scandal, witness tampering, and the outrageous FBI Filegate case, and Starr claims he found no evidence of wrongdoing by the Clintons in any of these matters.

"It’s time he be removed and a new independent counsel be appointed to properly finish the job,” Thompson said.