Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s talking points on the FBI investigation into questionable campaign donations have gone through a remarkable evolution over the past 48 hours.
When news of the investigation into donations from a Chinese national named Wang Wenliang first hit on Monday afternoon, McAuliffe came right up to the brink of flatly denying he’d ever met the man behind millions of dollars of Clinton Foundation donations:
“This was an allegation of a gentleman who gave a check to my campaign. I didn’t bring the donor in. I didn’t bring him into the Clinton foundation. I’m not sure if I’ve even met the person, to be honest with you.”
That was Monday.
By Wednesday, his official memory had gotten a bit of a jostle: (WMAL)
“I think we probably met one or two occasions. I think, I’m not sure if he came to the inaugural. He may have come to the inaugural,” McAuliffe told reporters Wednesday.
He said Wenliang did come by once with his secretary of agriculture to talk about a deal to buy billions of dollars in Virginia soybeans. McAuliffe said that agreement was made before he took office and denied having done any business with Wenliang himself.
Which brings us to Thursday morning’s Time report that McAuliffe actually invited Wenliang to the private home of Democratic Presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton:
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe invited the Chinese businessman whose donations to him have been named as a focus of Justice Department investigators to a 2013 fundraiser at Hillary Clinton’s personal Washington, D.C., residence.
Wang Wenliang, a Chinese national with U.S. permanent residency, briefly shook Clinton’s hand at the Sept. 30 event, a representative for Wang told TIME. An American company controlled by Wang made a $60,000 contribution to McAuliffe’s campaign three weeks before the fundraiser. Less than a month later, a separate Wang company pledged $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation, the first of several donations that eventually totaled $2 million.
The fundraiser was one of at least three interactions between Wang and McAuliffe, according to the businessman’s representative. McAuliffe initially told reporters this week he could not remember ever meeting Wang, though he later clarified that his staff had informed him of several likely meetings. “I did no deals,” McAuliffe said Wednesday in a radio interview. “I would not know the man if he sat in the chair next to me.”
From “I’m not sure I ever met him” to “we probably met on one or two occasions” to an audience with HRH Clinton. That’s one heck of a journey in just 2 days.
Wonder where McAuliffe’s story will be by Friday… or by November 8th.