Lake Hearings Resume

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WASHINGTON: Reports that the FBI briefed two National Security Council aides on a possible scheme by the Chinese government to sway the 1996 Congressional elections were a major stumbling block for CIA director-designate A nthony Lake in Senate confirmation hearings Tuesday. Lake faced a barrage of questions from Senator Richard Shelby, Republican head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on why his aides at the NSC purportedly did not inform the White House of FBI war nings concerning Chinese contributors. "This news, if true, would be very explosive. It should have gone to the President," Shelby said. Shelby's attempt to throw Lake's integrity into doubt will also include an examination into the NSC's involvement in fund-raising activities. Prior to the hearing, the Intelligence Committee tried to get one side of the story straight by grilling two of Lake's former NSC aides, both of whom allegedly had intimate knowledge of contacts between the W hite House and several Asian contributors. One of the aides, Sandra Kristoff, reportedly met a Thai contributor prior at the White House. The other, Robert Suettinger, allegedly wrote the memo in which Johnny Chung was described as a "hustler. " Despite the NSC flap, combined with lingering questions on his diplomatic performance and his personal finances, the Intelligence Committee is likely to endorse Lake. Up next: the full Senate, where several conservative Republicans have indica ted they may block his nomination on the Senate floor if the White House does not hand over Lake's FBI files.