Lin "Charlie" Trie, a key figure in the Clinton-era campaign-finance
scandal, told Justice Department investigators that he gave Clinton
aide Mark Middleton two payments of $10,000 — each in $100 bills
— during Middleton's tenure in the White House, according to documents
recently released to a House committee. Through his lawyer, Middleton
denied the allegation.
are known as "302" reports, which are the forms on which
FBI agents make notes during investigative interviews. The newly
released 302's concern the FBI's questioning of Trie between June
and October of 1999. While heavily censored copies of the documents
have been released before, they did not contain the information
about the alleged payoffs.
Trie, who contributed
heavily to the Democratic National Committee, told investigators
he considered Middleton a good contact because Middleton "knew
everybody" in the Clinton White House. In return for his contributions,
Trie enjoyed significant access to the White House; for example,
in June 1994, Trie brought Macao businessman Ng Lap Seng — who supplied
some of the money that Trie contributed — to the White House for
lunch with Middleton. Later, Trie said that Middleton had arranged
for him to attend a private reception with Bill Clinton during a
November, 1994 presidential trip to Indonesia — a favor for which
Trie was extremely grateful.
Trie told FBI
investigators that he believed Middleton was financially strapped.
According to the report, Trie said Middleton "had expressed
concern about his finances and future employment opportunities after
leaving the White House." Trie also told investigators that
Middleton, as a government employee, "did not make very much
money," that Middleton's apartment was "small, underground,
and not very nice," and that Middleton drove an old car.
Trie said that
on six or eight occasions he loaned his car — a Mercedes — to Middleton.
Trie told the FBI that shortly before Christmas, 1994 — not long
after the Indonesia reception — Middleton came to Trie's apartment
in the Watergate complex to borrow Trie's car. During that meeting,
according to the FBI report:
Middleton $10,000 in $100 denominations. The bills were not in
an envelope. He believes he thanked Middleton for his help. Middleton
looked surprised and seemed reluctant to accept the money. Middleton
asked Trie what the money was for and Trie responded something
like, "This is for all the help." Middleton accepted
the cash from Trie. This was the first of two $10,000 cash payments
Trie made to Middleton while Middleton was still employed by the
A few weeks
later, according to Trie, Middleton again came to the Watergate.
Trie says he gave Middleton another $10,000, again in $100 bills.
"Middleton did not seem surprised to receive the second $10,000,"
the report says.
to Trie," the report continues, "his primary reason for
paying Middleton was to continue getting into the White House, and
the secondary reason was so Middleton would introduce him to business
people." Trie also said he paid Middleton in appreciation for
helping him attend the Clinton reception in Indonesia. Trie says
Middleton never asked him for money.
Later in 1995,
Trie told investigators, he made one last $10,000 payment to Middleton,
who had by that time left the White House. Trie said the money was
intended to pay for Middleton to visit Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan,
and China on a business trip.
Trie says he
was given the cash to pay Middleton by Ng Lap Seng, and that the
money came from a large amount of cash that Ng brought to the United
States from Asia. During the course of the campaign-finance probe,
congressional investigators discovered that Ng brought more than
$300,000 in cash to this country between 1994 and 1996.
The new information
has raised eyebrows among Republican investigators on the House
Government Reform Committee, who are now trying to find out if the
Justice Department followed up on Trie's information. "We can't
come up with anybody [at the Justice Department] who can remember
whether or not Middleton was called back for a second interview
after these allegations," says a committee source. "It
certainly raises our level of concern with the investigation."
At a committee hearing in August, 1999, Middleton refused to testify,
citing his Fifth Amendment rights on 28 occasions.
who now runs an international-consulting business based in Little
Rock, Arkansas, was never charged with any wrongdoing. Today, his
lawyer, Robert Luskin, said that Trie's allegations are "absolutely
false." "Mark never, ever, accepted any money from any
source outside of his salary from the White House," Luskin
said. Luskin added that Middleton "was fully cooperative"
with the Justice Department investigation.