Brian Spegele at WSJ:
Soon after Donald Trump took office, people with ties to the Chinese state poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into his re-election bid to get close to and potentially influence the new president.
The effort had early success in gaining access for those involved, helping them meet the president or top Republicans at fundraisers or at an internal GOP leadership meeting. It reveals how China seeks to build inroads into U.S. politics, gather information on U.S. leaders and if possible affect policy-making.
Several of those involved worked closely with China’s national-security apparatus, including organizations linked to its military, and briefed prominent Chinese political figures about their efforts.
As guests of a Republican official named Shawn Steel, Chinese nationals, including a man working for China’s central government, attended an invitation-only gathering in May 2017 where GOP leaders discussed campaign strategies and other issues.
In response to inquiries, the Republican National Committee said it had instructed Mr. Steel to break ties with several people identified in Wall Street Journal reporting.
“It’s important to do all we can to safeguard our politics from illegal foreign meddling,” the RNC said in response to questions. It said it wouldn’t return donations identified by the Journal that facilitated access to the president and other officials because it didn’t believe campaign-finance laws were broken.
Separately, Mr. Steel, a Republican national committeeman from California, said it would be “false, defamatory, and offensive” to say he aided any Chinese efforts. He didn’t respond to specific questions.Michell Steel, Shawn Steel's wife, is running against Harley Rouda for Congress. DCCC took note.