THE CASH MACHINE

WAS HUANG A MAVERICK OR PART OF A SCHEME TO SHAKE DOWN FOREIGN TYCOONS?

To understand why John Huang could move so freely through the White House, it helps to know that he came highly recommended to his Commerce Department job. In 1994, the White House sent Huang's name to then Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown as a "must hire" because he had "deep Arkansas connections and was well known to the President."

Even before he joined Commerce, Huang enjoyed special treatment from his friends in the West Wing. One favor came in the form of a top-secret security clearance that Huang was awarded while still a private citizen. TIME has obtained an official memo...

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