A week ago, the San Francisco Chronicle and the local CBS affiliate reported on how Dianne Feinstein’s decades-long staffer turned out to be a spy for China — while she was chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. So far, news outlets like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and even Washington DC’s own Post still have yet to report a single word on this penetration, even while both newspapers are filled with Russian intel ops and their aftermath.
At the New York Post, however, Paul Sperry connects a few dots between Feinstein, China, and the bank. As far back as 1996, Sperry notes, the FBI tried to warn Feinstein that China would seek to influence her through illegal campaign contributions. He reminds us that Feinstein was caught up in the 1996 campaign-finance scandal that snagged the DNC and Bill Clinton, eventually returning $12,000 in donations tied to John Huang and others.
Sperry wonders whether they succeeded through other means. Feinstein’s China-friendly policies paid off in personal terms:
Beijing got its favored trade status extended — thanks in part to Feinstein. In speeches on the Senate floor and newspaper op-eds, she shamelessly spun China’s human-rights violations, as when in 1997 she compared Beijing’s 1989 massacre of hundreds of young demonstrators to the 1970 Kent State shootings, calling for the presidents of China and America to appoint a human-rights commission “charting the evolution of human rights in both countries over the last 20 to 30 years,” that “would point out the successes and failures — both Tiananmen Square and Kent State — and make recommendations for goals for the future.”
Feinstein also led efforts to bring China into the World Trade Organization in 1999, which gave Beijing permanent normal trade relations status and removed the annual congressional review of its human-rights and weapons-proliferation records.
Feinstein, still among the Senate’s most influential China doves, travels to China each year. Joining her on those trips is her mega-millionaire investor husband, Richard C. Blum, who has seemingly benefited greatly from the relationship.
Starting in 1996, as China was aggressively currying favor with his wife, Blum was able to take large stakes in Chinese state-run steel and food companies, and has brokered over $100 million in deals in China since then — with the help of partners who sit on the boards of Chinese military front companies like COSCO and CITIC.
All of this would have taken place at the same time as Feinstein’s staffer was in contact with Chinese intelligence. US intelligence officials finally confronted Feinstein in 2013 over the staffer’s activities, at which point she forced him to retire. By that time, though, he had become much more than a driver — he acted as a liaison to the local Asian community and attended diplomatic functions as part of Feinstein’s staff.
Perhaps all of this is just a coincidence. However, this penetration by a hostile intelligence service appears more significant than anything that happened during the 2016 election, more sustained, and aimed far more at American security. The lack of curiosity by most American media about this intelligence operation might be its most curious feature, however.