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Page Two: Gore's Justice Department Interview
Q: Do you know why you would have, or your office would have made a referral of this matter to Ms. Hsia?
A: No. No, I don't. But I'm sure that -- well, I mean, you know, Leon Fuerth may.
Q: Who is Leon Fuerth?
A: He's my foreign policy -- at this point, he was my principal foreign policy advisor. He is the same thing today, with a different title. He's my National Security Advisor, with offices in the Old Executive Office Building. He traveled with me to Taiwan. And, again, I can speculate about this, if you wish, and you can take it for what it's worth.
Senators and congressmen get a large number of constituent work requests, often from other states and -- although it's somewhat unusual to get them from other states, having run for President the year before that and reached out to a lot of people, I received my share of it, maybe more. Representing Tennessee, we had some immigration caseload, but not much, and that related to Asian Americans was quite small.
It may be that whoever got this constituent case letter referred it to Leon, and that Leon, because he knew from the trip that Maria Hsia was involved with such issues, reached out to her to see if she could offer some advice on how to solve this person's problem.
And I apologize for giving you what is only speculation, but it might in future inquiries -- help you save some time possibly.
Q: You don't have any firsthand recollection of directing Leon to do that or being involved --
Q: -- in that process at all
Q: The year '89 began with your trip with Maria Hsia and others to Taiwan, and at least on December 19th your office is referring an immigration matter to her. You've mentioned a fundraiser that she hosted for you in May of that year. Did you have any other contact with her, to your recollection?
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: Let me turn your attention to document J, which bears the last four Bates stamp numbers 1977.
Q: Do you recognize that document?
A: Yes, and that is my signature and that is my P.S.
Q: It's a letter dated October 2, 1990 on Al Gore U.S. Senate stationery. What do you recall about this letter?
A: Well, I don't recall anything about it other than the refreshed recollection as I look at it, that it appears to be a routine thank-you letter on the month before the election, to which I've added an extra P.S., because the names were familiar to me, and you try to personalize these things. And beyond that, it has no special significance.
Q: Apparently Howard Hom and Maria Hsia had made a generous contribution to your 1990 campaign.
Q: Is that correct?
A: Well, "generous" would be $2,000, possibly $4,000. I don't think they contributed that much. But in the context of a Senate race, the maximum that can be contributed is $1,000 per person, which can apply both to the primary and the general. And I don't remember if they contributed 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, or 4,000.
Q: And the handwritten note, "I cannot thank you enough. You two are great friends. See you soon."
Q: And that's in your writing?
A: Yes, it is.
Q: What contact did you have with Howard Hom and Maria Hsia in the calendar year 1990, to your present day recollection?
A: I don't remember any. Again, let me say in the same way that I characterized the letter that somebody typed for me as if it took place on the airplane flying back, that this is the kind of routine overstatement that is quite common, both in P.S.'s to letters of this sort, and in captions on pictures, et cetera. You're a great friend, thank you; you two are great friends, thank you; see you soon. It's a typical expression from me in a context like this.
So, you shouldn't read -- I'd caution you not to read into it that this is evidence of a high frequency of contact during this calendar year. I may have seen them during the calendar year. Typically I would see him without her, but I'm not even sure that I saw her at all during the calendar year. I just don't know.
Q: So, when you refer to them as great friends, you don't necessarily mean that?
A: I mean to use the phrase in the same way that I use it with a lot of people who have contributed to the campaign and have manifested a generous friendship in that way. So, I do mean it, hut I don't mean it in the way that you and I would use the phrase with a lifelong friend that you met in college or something.
Q: Let me turn your attention to Exhibit K, which bears the last four Bates stamp numbers 1982, and it's dated December 15, 1990, and ask you if you are familiar with that document?
A: Only from being shown it yesterday. That does appears to be -- well, I don't know if that's my signature. I think it is. I think that's my signature.
Q: What is your understanding of that letter?
A: Well, my assumption here -- well, let me make it more than that. It was a common practice for me in the aftermath of a campaign to go back and thank everybody who had contributed to the campaign or played some role in the campaign. And in order to avoid missing somebody I accepted the risk of duplicative thank-yous. Some people who showed up on the list would have already received thank-yous, some of them would not. And the easiest thing to do was just to sign them all.
The same thing happens with Christmas cards. I'm embarrassed to tell you that some people have received as many as 12 different copies of my Christmas card each year.
The staff hears about this on a regular -- every January after my wife and I hear about it from puzzled friends.
Q: So, my understanding of this letter is that it is in the wake of a successful reelection campaign to contributors to that campaign, and your indication of a more personal wish that, "Tipper and I wish you and your family a joyous holiday season", is what went out to all your contributors at this time?
A: I believe that this reflects the combination of some procrastination after the election and some sense of an onrushing holiday.
Q: A combination of the two?
A: Yes. And that in order to make the lateness of the routine thank-you less noticeable, it was combined with this expression of holiday greetings
Q: Do you have any other recollection --
A: Now, I don't know that for sure. The person who prepared the letter might. But I'm assuming that, and I think it's a safe assumption. Go ahead.
Q: 1989 and 1990, other than documents that refresh your recollection as to events that occurred in that time period, do you have any other independent recollection of meeting or phone conversations with Maria Hsia?
Q: Between the time period 1990 and 1995, how would you summarize your relationship with Maria Hsia?
q When was the next opportunity that you had to meet or be with Maria Hsia?
A: I don't know. I don't know. My impression was that she kind of fell off the radar screen for quite a while. I don't know if she was involved in the '92 campaign. There may be some documents that can refresh my recollection on that. But my overall impression is that she kind of fell off the radar screen until sometime in '95.
Q: Were you involved in sponsoring any type of immigration legislation in that time period? Well, I guess before 1992?
A: I may have. I may have. I don't know.
Q: Do you have any recollection of working with Maria Hsia or having conversation with her about immigration legislation?
A: I have a recollection of seeing some document in preparation for some previous testimony that made reference to some piece of legislation. But my memory of it is coming from being shown something last year or the year before. I don't have an independent recollection of it.
Q: Do you have a recollection of a fund-raising event that you and President Clinton attended in September of 1995 at the Century Plaza Hotel in California?
A: I believe I do. We have been to a lot of fund-raising events and I think that I do.
Q: This would have been one hosted by Tom Hanks, if that helps?
A: No, I don't -- was he the emcee? I think he might have been. Well, actually, I've been to several with him. Okay. Let me turn your attention to Exhibit L. But -- okay. I'm not trying to be difficult, but I really --
Q: No, I understand. This has a Bates stamp number at the bottom DNC 3321658.
MR. NEAL: Is that a several-page exhibit?
MR. CONRAD: Yes-
MR. NEAL: Thank you.
BY MR. CONRAD
Q: Does that help at all?
A: Oh, this is for the event? Well, Jim Neal showed me this yesterday and I believe that I -- this says Southern California. Yes, yes, okay, fine. Yes. Well, no, I was thinking of a different one a moment ago. Of course, Century Plaza is in Los Angeles.
Yes, I think I remember this event.
MR. NEAL: Actually, it's Century City, isn't it?
MR. TIMBERLAKE: Yes, Century City.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Do you recall seeing Maria Hsia there?
A: No, but I may well have. If she was there, I'm sure that I saw her.
Q: You don't have any independent recollection of any conversation with her on that subject?
A: Not at that event, but it could well be that that was the time when I remember her kind of resurfacing and once again being interested in supporting Democratic candidates. And it may well have been at this event, but I can't say for sure. Was she at this event?
Q: I believe she was. What do you remember about the whole resurfacing of Maria Hsia in political activities? What's your recollection of that?
A: Nothing specific, other than the fact that I had spent all that time on the trip to Taiwan with her and then saw her, you know, once or twice, or thereabouts. She did that one event in Los Angeles at Tina Bow's house and that was basically it. And if I saw her to have a brief hello-how-are-you at some other event after that, I don't recall it. I'm not saying that I didn't.
But to have her back at an event where Clinton's at the top of the ticket, we're running for reelection, all of a sudden here's this person that I knew from six years earlier, it made an impression on me that, you know, where've you been, nice to see you, glad that you're here, thank you for your help. That's the extent of it.
Q: What was your involvement with the Asian Pacific Leadership Council in that six-year time period?
A: To my knowledge, zero.
Q: Did you have any contact with James Riady during that time period?
A: To my knowledge, no.
Q: How about John Huang?
A: Now, John Huang was a member of the Administration and he had been on the trip and -- he had been on the trip in 1989. And I cannot remember when I saw him again. But I think it was under circumstances where it seemed as if he knew the President, or had met the President, gotten to know the President independently from his relationship with me. But I can't remember when that was.
Q: Was the first time that you met John Huang on the trip to --
Q: Taiwan in 1989?
Q: Between --
A: And his wife, Jane, was there also.
Q: Did you spend much time with John Huang on that trip?
Q: What types of things did you discuss?
A: Same, I mean, the group went out to dinner. The group went sightseeing. The group went to Kaohsiung.
Q: What was your understanding of John Huang's employment at that time?
A: I didn't know what his employment was or, at least if he told me, it did not make an impression on me.
MR. NEAL: At the time of the trip?
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Yes, in 1989. Did you know where he lived in 1989?
A: No, I didn't.
Q: Between 1989 and 1992, did you have any involvement with John Huang?
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: In terms of the election cycle in 1992, what involvement did you have with John Huang?
A: I don't know. I don't know. I don't remember any. But I said, in response to an earlier question about Maria Hsia, if she was involved in the '92 campaign, I don't recall it. I would give the same answer with respect to John Huang. He could have been. If you showed me, you know, some list where he was an attendee at an event or something that I was at, it wouldn't shock me. But I have no independent recollection of that whatsoever.
Q: Do you have any recollection of any conversations with John Huang in the 1992 election cycle about fund-raising?
Q: Between 1992 and, let's say , this Century Plaza Hotel fundraiser in September of '95, did you have any conversation with John Huang?
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: Did you have any role in John Huang's employment with the Department of Commerce?
A: No, with one exception. President Clinton -- no. I'm thinking of something else. No, I had no role in that, to my knowledge.
Q: You were about to tell me ---
A: -- I was about to say that at a later time, at a later time when he became involved in raising funds for the campaign, there was an occasion where President Clinton said in an aside, you don't have a problem with John Huang coming to help with campaign fund-raising, do you; and I said, no.
MR. NEAL: When you're talking about a campaign, just for clarity, were you talking about the '95 or --
THE WITNESS: No.
MR. NEAL: -- '96 campaign?
THE WITNESS: I believe so, yes.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Are you talking about the move from --
A: The DNC.
Q: -- the Department of Commerce to the -
A: With the DNC.
Q: -- DNC? We'll get to that a little bit later. In any event, with Maria Hsia and the Century Plaza Hotel, I guess your testimony is you had no knowledge of any illegal contributions that Ms. Hsia --
A: Of course not.
q -- solicited for that --
A: Of course not.
Q: -- event? And do you recall meeting any nuns from the Hsi Lai Temple at that event?
Q: Do you recall the Hay Adams fund-raising dinner that occurred on the 19th followed by a breakfast on the 20th in the campaign of 1996?
A: I don't recall the dinner. I don't think I was at the dinner. My recollection of the breakfast was refreshed yesterday by a document that also made reference to the dinner. I do recall the breakfast independent of the document after my recollection was refreshed. And I'm happy to tell you about it.
Q: Yes, what do you recall about your participation in that event?
A: I recall a lengthy briefing memo. I remember walking into a room with a table about half again as large as this one, or half again as long as this one anyway, and every seat filled; a breakfast; brief remarks; and then a Q and A series of exchanges where I responded to various issues that were raised by people at the table.
Q: What do you recall about being briefed for that breakfast meeting?
A: I remember there was a long briefing paper. My recollection of that was refreshed by looking at it yesterday. And that did refresh a specific recollection of thinking at the time, this is a lot, this is a lot to absorb more than normal, for an event like this. They had quite a number of issues that they wanted to discuss, including immigration law. And I can't remember who briefed me for it.
Q: Did you have any conversations with John Huang in preparation for that breakfast?
A: I don't know. I don't think so. I don't have a memory of it. Was he with the campaign -- with the DNC then?
Q: This would have been February of '96 and he would have been with the DNC at that time.
A: Could well be. It could well be.
Q: Other than that one conversation with President Clinton, what --
A: But typically -- let me just add, if I could.
Typically I would be coming from some other location or some other event and walking in, having read the briefing paper on the way. And it wouldn't be unusual for me to be running a little bit late and walk right into the event. But I'm not saying that he didn't brief me. I just don't remember it.
Q: The Hay Adams event was a little different than other events, wasn't it? Wasn't it focused on the Asian American community?
A: Yes, but that's not -- it's not unusual to have events focused on a specific community. There are, for example, events with Jewish Americans, where a specific agenda is included in the briefing paper; events with Hispanic Americans; et cetera, et cetera.
Q: Were you, in preparation for this event, briefed on the Asian Pacific Leadership Council and their participation in it?
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: Was your expertise or past relationship with that group drawn on in any way in preparation for that?
A: No, that group didn't, wouldn't have rung a bell with me. The presence of Maria Hsia, John Huang, Jane Huang, and any others who had been on the 1989 trip with me would have rung a bell, but not the Pacific Leadership Council. Even if I saw that name way back when, it did not make an impression on me.
Q: Who did you see that you recognized at that breakfast?
A: May I refresh my recollection ---
A: -- with the list of people who were there?
MR. NEAL: For the record, we've handed the Vice President a multi-page document.
MS. BROWN: His briefing.
THE WITNESS: I'm sorry. I'm having trouble finding the people.
MR. NEAL: Go to the back.
THE WITNESS: Right. Okay. Maria, Pauline Kanchanalak. I believe that's it.
MR. NEAL: And John Huang?
THE WITNESS: And John Huang, but he's not on the list here. I don't know if he was there or not.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Mr. Vice President, just for the record, would you read into the record the document you're referring to, to -
Q: -- refresh your recollection?
A: It's entitled, it has the notation EOP 008510. It is on Democratic National Committee stationery, and it is entitled Briefing for the Vice President of the United States Al Gore, Jr.
MR. CONRAD: For the record, if we could make that a part of the deposition as well?
MR. NEAL: Sure, what number.
MR. CONRAD: Let's make it VPOTUS No. 1.
(VPOTUS Exhibit No. 1 was marked for identification.)
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: What is your recollection of any conversation you had with Ms. Maria Hsia at that event?
A: I have none.
Q: Do you recall her being seated at your table?
A: No, I don't, but I would have been glad to see her and would have said, hello, how are you. But I don't have any specific recollection of it.
Q: Do you have any knowledge that Maria Hsia had solicited illegal contributions in connection with that event?
A: No, of course not. No, I don't.
Q: Did you know that the price for attending that event was $12,500 per person?
Q: I want to --
A: Although that's noted on the list. That $12,500 per person is noted in the briefing paper. So, I assume that I had access to this briefing paper prior to the event, and I assume that I read it.
Q: Let me turn your attention to what has been marked as Government Exhibit 0, which has Bates stamp number, last four digits, 2045, a multiple-page exhibit. The first page is blank and it says, Redacted.
Q: I'll ask you to take a look at that exhibit dated February
MR. NEAL: We're having a hard time finding it here.
WITNESS: Can we take a short break?
(Whereupon, the proceedings were recessed from 2:32 p.m. until 2:40 p.m.)
BY MR. CONRAD
Q: Before the break, we had been talking about an exhibit dated February 26, 1996, bearing the last four Bates stamp numbers 2045, a multiple-page exhibit which ends at 2052.
Mr. Vice President, are you familiar with that?
A: Now, which letter is this?
Q: This is the redacted Memorandum for the Vice President.
A: Yes. Yes, I have it.
Q: Dated February 26, 1996.
A: It's the same one. I was looking at the wrong number. I've got it.
Q: What is this document? Much of it is redacted.
A: This appears to be one of a voluminous series of documents that were prepared by the President's political team, I believe headed by Harold Ickes, and with copies sent to a variety of people.
I routinely turned this over to -- let's see. This says --
Q: This is dated February 26, 1996. Are we looking at the same document?
A: Well, I was looking at this (indicating). This looks like David Strauss' stuff.
Q: Let me go ahead and --
A: Could they have been sending me a copy of David Strauss' --
Q: Are you looking at 2045?
Q: And it's from Ron Klain and --
A: Yes, I just noticed that.
Q: -- David Strauss.
A: Yes, I don't know. This must have been their summary of the DNC and reelect budgets, as it says.
Q: And it's a memorandum for the Vice President, and that would be you?
A: That would be me.
Q: Let me turn your attention to 2051, which is headed at the top, "II. DNC Budget". First of all, if I could ask you, what is the purpose of this memorandum?
A: I assume that it is to acquaint me with the DNC budget.
Q: In February of '96, were you having regular meetings concerning the DNC and the reelection effort and the need for campaign contributions?
A: Yes. We were having regular meetings that covered a variety of subjects, those included among them.
Q: And would this have been a memorandum summarizing one of those meetings?
A: I don't know.
Q: Well, turning your attention to 2051 --
A: It could have been summarizing it, or preparing for it.
Q: II. DNC Budget begins, "We seem to be in essential agreement on this -- and in agreement that the fundraising task is huge."
Would that have been a summary of an agreement that came out of a meeting, or not?
MR. NEAL: I would like to state at this point -- I'm not trying to shut you off. But the Vice President did testify about this, referred to it as some sort of pep meeting, and says that he doesn't even believe he was there at this meeting.
Is it fair that I show him a copy --
MR. CONRAD: If you want to refresh his recollection with a 302, that would be fine with me.
MR. NEAL: Yes.
THE WITNESS: Okay.
MR. NEAL: Just to shorten, I think it's that paragraph there (indicating).
THE WITNESS: Well, this has the title on it, which the redacted version doesn't. So, that helps me.
MR. NEAL: Starting there.
THE WITNESS: Yes, "Weekly meeting with the President."
Okay. My recollection having been refreshed, this appears to be a briefing memo in preparation for a meeting with the President to talk about the political budget. I've previously said that I don't remember a meeting of this kind on February 28th, when this is said to have taken place, and that I do not think that I went to it, either because it was cancelled or I was called out of town. But --
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: For the record, if you would identify the document you're using to refresh your recollection?
A: This is what you all referred to as the 302. This is FD-302, Federal Bureau of Investigation, date of transcription November 13, 1997.
Q: Thank you.
A: And down at the bottom, it has FBI-TRIE154.
THE WITNESS: Is that what you are pointing to?
MR. NEAL: No.
THE WITNESS: I'm sorry. Date dictated, November 11th, '97.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Now, if I could turn your attention to 2051 of the Exhibit labeled 0 --
Q: -- which is headed DNC Budget. "We seem to be in essential agreement on this -- and in agreement that the fundraising task is huge."
Do you know what that refers to?
A: No, I don't. The part before that is redacted out. I can speculate, if you wish me to.
Q: Well, go ahead.
A: It appears to be a statement that all the parties involved had reached agreement on the range, on the relative size of the DNC budget, because in the next paragraph it speaks of specific subcategories of the budget being pared back. Then the next one is fully-funded, et cetera.
And I am assuming from this that what Mr. Klain is saying is that whatever disagreements that existed prior to the time he prepared this about the size of the overall budget and the various subcategories had been essentially resolved.
Q: And in that same section of the memorandum, it refers to the bottom line being a budget of 108 million, is that correct?
A: That's what it says here.
Q: If I could turn your attention to 2052, under the heading "Fundraising: This is the big question -- can we raise $108 million (or more, if generic DNC media is desired in the fall)?"
What is your recollection of the meaning of that entry?
A: Just what it says.
MR. NEAL: What is your recollection?
THE WITNESS: Oh, I don't have an independent recollection of it.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: If I could ask you to read several lines down, beginning with the sentence, "From a current schedule of events, Fowler thinks we" -- if you read that section, all the way through to where it says "coffees, etc.," if you could read that into record, then I would like to ask you a couple of questions about it.
A: You want me to read it out loud into the record?
A: "From a current schedule of events, Fowler thinks we can raise $92 million (Rosen thinks we can raise $80 million.) I did three events this week which were projected to raise $650,000, and, under rigorous accounting, actually raised $800,000. For the month, Tipper and I were supposed to do $1.1 million, and it looks like we will be closer to $1.3 million.
"So we can raise the money -- BUT ONLY IF -- the President and I actually do the events, the calls, the coffees, etc."
Q: Okay, that's where I wanted you to read to. Now, that sounds like you are speaking in that section of this memorandum. That sounds like first-person information.
A: This -- I previously said that I believe that these were talking points prepared by Ron Klain, because the format is characteristic of his approach. And when I previously was asked about this, I advised, that my memory had been refreshed by recent newspaper accounts confirming that this was evidently prepared by Ron Klain.
I have no recollection of the meeting and I've never been scheduled to make a formal presentation at such a meeting.
I can speculate, as I did previously, that there was a continuing clash of viewpoints between different advisors to the President about whether or not it was feasible to raise a large sum of money for the DNC during this period of time. And I was generally of the view that if we worked hard enough we could do it. And the talking points would have been, I speculate, would have been prepared to assist me in making that case.
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