There is so much that remains unknown about the Chinese spy who was employed on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s personal staff for 20 years. As details continue to emerge, one thing is certain: this sordid tale has serious implications for U.S. national security and congressional ethics.
The story first broke when Politico Magazine ran an article on spies in Silicon Valley by Zach Dorfman in which the reporter revealed the startling news that “[f]ormer intelligence officials told me that Chinese intelligence once recruited a staff member at a California office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the source reported back to China about local politics.”
The San Francisco Chronicle followed that up by reporting that Feinstein’s “driver was being investigated for possible Chinese spying.”
“Besides driving her around when she was in California, the staffer also served as a gofer in her San Francisco office and as a liaison to the Asian American community, even attending Chinese Consulate functions for the senator,” the Chronicle reported.
Ben Weingarten, writing at The Federalist, reports “[a]n unnamed source added that a Chinese MSS [Ministry of State Security] official first approached the staffer during a visit to Asia several years prior. Given his proximity to Feinstein, we have no idea what information he could have gleaned in her employ.”
Weingarten also notes that “Feinstein’s account [of immediately removing the employee as soon as she was notified by the FBI] conflicts with what has been reported regarding the recruitment and activities of the Chinese spy. She conveniently omits that her office employed this individual for almost 20 years in a close capacity, while he represented the senator in interactions with Chinese officials.”
Paul Sperry, in the New York Post, writes that Feinstein was an “easy mark” for Chinese espionage agents:
In June 1996 – after the staffer [spy] had begun working for Feinstein – the FBI detected that the Chinese government was attempting to seek favor with the senator, who at the time sat on the East Asian and Pacific affairs subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee, which oversees US-China relations. Investigators warned her in a classified briefing that Beijing might try to influence her through illegal campaign contributions laundered through front corporations and other cutouts.
Despite this warning, Sperry notes that Feinstein accepted campaign contributions from “Chinese bagman” John Huang.
“After a Justice Department task force investigated widespread illegal fundraising during the 1996 Clinton re-election campaign, Feinstein returned more than $12,000 in contributions from donors associated with Huang,” Sperry writes.
A 1997 Los Angeles Times article is crucial in detailing just how cozy Feinstein had become with Chinese officials at the time.
The article details how Feinstein’s husband Richard C. Blum began investing in China with “one project worth less than $500,000” in 1992 before suddenly planning on investing $150 million two years later.
At the exact same moment that Blum’s Chinese investment began to skyrocket, “Feinstein’s role on U.S. policy toward China… expanded. In January 1995, she became a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, giving her a prominent platform for her efforts to support China’s trade privileges,” the Times reported.
The 1997 article also reveals that Feinstein made three visits “since 1995” to meet with senior Chinese officials, including President Jiang Zemin, bringing her husband along each time.
Fast-forward to today and Feinstein is the second-wealthiest sitting senator in Congress, with an estimated personal net worth of $94 million, with most of that coming from her husband’s investments.
40 years of close personal ties
A report in the Epoch Times lays out a dizzying array of close Feinstein ties with China dating back some 40 years, to when she was mayor of San Francisco.
Mayor Feinstein hosted future Chinese president Zemin at her home, Zachary Stieber at the Epoch Times reports, and “San Francisco and Shanghai have been sister cities for 38 years, after the agreement was put into place by Feinstein and Jiang, who was then Shanghai’s mayor.”
But that’s not all.
To help facilitate the relationship between the U.S. and China, Feinstein asked organizers of the city’s popular Chinese New Year Parade to stop displaying the flag of the Nationalist Chinese government, which ruled in exile in Taiwan after 1949.
Feinstein also defended China, despite its communist policies, insisting that it was merely “socialist.”
“There was originally this kind of anti-communist view of China,” Feinstein told the Washington Post. “That’s changing… China is a socialist country but one that is increasingly becoming capitalistic.”
Stieber also notes that “Feinstein has received awards and recognition from some groups for promoting U.S.-China ties, accepting the California-Asia Business Council’s New Silk Road award in 2005.”
Stieber quotes with devastating effect Ross Munro, co-author of “The Coming Conflict with China,” who said, “[t]here is no doubt in my mind that, if Dianne Feinstein had a pattern of taking positions on U.S.-China policy that Chinese officials disliked, Mr. Blum would have a great deal more difficulty doing business in China and probably would find it impossible to do.”
We have no real idea at this moment just how much damaging information Dianne Feinstein’s spy handed over to his Chinese paymasters over the course of 20 years of close proximity to her inner circle.
We do know for an incontrovertible fact that Feinstein is a powerful and hugely influential senator heavily involved in U.S. dealings with China, and that her and her husband are extremely wealthy today due to intimate business dealings with the Chinese transacted over the same time period she was supposed to be representing the United States and her constituents.