June 28, 1997 in Nation/World

Panel Backs Immunity In Finance Probe

Compiled From Wire Services

A Senate committee Friday voted unanimously to initiate immunity grants for four witnesses, who would be compelled to testify about possibly illegal campaign donations to Democrats.

In exchange for Democratic cooperation on authorizing the limited immunity, the panel’s Republican chairman indicated he would look favorably on issuing more Democratic-requested subpoenas.

The cooperation interrupted weeks of partisan bickering on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which begins its high-profile hearings on campaign fund-raising on July 8.

Two weeks ago, Democrats blocked a more-ambitious attempt by Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., to compel testimony from 18 individuals.

In the major congressional investigative effort of 1997, the hearings will initially concentrate on whether foreign money played a role in the 1996 presidential campaign and focus mostly on Democrats.

Committee officials identified two of the witnesses to be granted immunity, Hueitsan Huang and Siuw Moi Lian, as Buddhist nuns from California. Two others, Xi Ping Wang and Yue F. Chu, were associated with Democratic fund-raiser Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie, the officials said.

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