Of the many scandals to have marred Bill Clinton’s eight-years in office, “Chinagate” was perhaps one of the most well-known involving shady dealings between the Clintons and foreign governments as hundreds of thousands of dollars were funneled directly to the Democratic National Committee from China’s military intelligence agency. The illegal fund-raising, incidentally, coincided with Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.
At the time, a Chinese-American businessman at the center of the scandal, Johnny Chung, decided to cooperate with federal investigators at the Department of Justice, but soon began to fear for his life. As a type of “insurance” for his privileged information regarding the crimes of the U.S.’ most politically powerful families, Chung decided to make a “tell all” video after a former government official who visited Chung while he was in hiding. The official told Chung that his “odds of survival actually increased by going public.” Chung kept the existence of the video secret for years, smuggling it to his friends and family with detailed instructions for its release in the event he was assassinated. Though Chung’s current whereabouts are officially unknown, he is said to still be alive and living in China.
The video, released to the public by the UK’s Daily Mail, was obtained by author and historian David Wead, who is currently working on a book tracing Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 bid for the presidency as well as the Chinese government’s long-standing practice of buying political influence in the United States. According to Wead, Chung “received a friendly visit from a retired government official, friendly with the FBI, who perhaps felt guilty about the treatment Chung had been given after agreeing to come forward and tell the truth” and ultimately persuaded Chung to produce the video.
The contents of the video may come as a shock to some, though those who have followed the disappearances and “suspicious” deaths of Clinton insiders over the years may be less inclined to surprise. After Chung agreed to tell the truth and work with federal prosecutors, top Democrats worked tireless to silence him, pressuring him to keep quiet about his dealings with the Clintons by sending his attorney “veiled threats” urging Chung to plead the Fifth Amendment during his congressional testimony. Soon after, the threats continued to mount, quickly convincing Chung that he was becoming a target for assassination. The FBI were soon providing around-the-clock protection to both Chung and his family.
Yet, just a fews days prior to his scheduled appearance before a grand jury, the FBI abruptly called off Chung’s protection. In the video, Chung recounted the words of the FBI agent who informed him that his protection detail was a things of the past. “Mr. Chung your case is over,” the agent had said. “There is no more emergency, if you feel your life’s in danger, you just call 911.” The FBI’s remarks shocked both the probation officer and judge assigned to Chung’s case, considering that there had been three attempts made on his life while the FBI were protecting him. Chung then contacted his church and his pastor for protection, having no other options at his disposal.
Interestingly, Chung stated that one of the main reasons he feared for his life was the untimely death of Clinton commerce secretary Ron Brown. Brown, who had been deeply involved in arranging and selling seats on the Clinton administration’s trade missions to China, died suddenly in a plane crash in Croatia in 1996. The timing of Brown’s death led some to speculate that he was killed before he could go public with information on the illegal Chinese campaign contributions at the heart of the “Chinagate” scandal. David Abernethy, Chung’s friend who originally filmed the video, said that Chung had “knowledge of what happened to people such as Ron Brown,” though the video does not offer details regarding what Chung knew about Brown’s sudden death.
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