Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, highlighted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) financial ties to the Chinese government as an example of how politicians monetize political influence while evading financial disclosure regulations.
Schweizer joined Monday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight for an interview with co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak to discuss McConnell’s linkages to China, as detailed in his latest book, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) familial ties to the Chinese state via his father- and sisters-in-law are causes for concern, deduced Schweizer. James Chao, McConnell’s father-in-law, founded Foremost Group, a shipping company that has done “large volumes of business” with Chinese state-owned companies. McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, is the current secretary of transportation.
“So Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, his wife Elaine Chao, who’s the transportation secretary in the Trump administration, her family has deep economic and financial ties to the Chinese government itself,” said Schweizer. “They are in the shipping business, and they own something called the Foremost Group, and really, in 1993, Mitch McConnell, as a senator, travels to China with his father-in-law, James Chao, as guests of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.”
He continued, “The China State Shipbuilding Corporation is the largest defense contractor in China, and the projections are that by 2030, if current trends continue, they are going to surpass the U.S. Navy as far as naval capability. Basically, what happens is, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation says to the Chao family, ‘Look, we will build your ships. We will finance the purchase of some of your ships. We will provide crews for your ships. We will provide contracts for you to ship state-owned goods from state-owned companies around the Pacific. In other words, we are going to set you up in the shipping business,’ which is exactly what they do, and, in fact, James Chao — this would be Elaine Chao’s father, Mitch McConnell’s father-in-law — and Elaine’s sister, Angela Chao, actually joined the board, in 2007 and 2008, of something called China State Shipbuilding Corporation, CSSC Holdings, which is a subsidiary of the largest defense contractor in China. So you have this powerful American political family that is making U.S. policy related to China, related to trade, and other critical issues that is highly dependent upon the good graces of the Chinese government.”
Schweizer framed McConnell’s “increasingly soft” political positioning towards China as a function of his familial and financial ties to the Chinese state.
“McConnell himself has benefited because a few years ago, James Chao gave Mitch McConnell a gift between five and twenty-five million dollars that more than quadrupled his net worth overnight,” noted Schweizer. “So this is not just about Elaine Chao’s family getting wealthy. That wealth has now trickled into Mitch McConnell’s pocket, as well, and it’s a huge problem because if you chart the positions that Sen. McConnell has taken on China over the last twenty years, guess what? Shock of all shocks, he has become increasingly soft as it relates to China, and I think it is directly related to the fact that he knows his family’s financial future is tied to the good graces and good faith of the Chinese communist government.”
Schweizer described the Chinese government as “freaked out” over the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, owing to the 45th president’s decades-long view of the “rising threat of China.”
“So the election of Donald Trump, there’s no other way to say it, it completely freaked out the Chinese government because Trump has really been focused — whether one agrees with him on trade policy or not — he has focused since the 1980s on what he regards as a rising threat of China; whether it relates to trade, economics, or military power,” surmised Schweizer.
According to Schweizer, China’s decision to appoint McConnell’s sister-in-law, Angela Chao, to the Bank of China’s board of directors — ten days after 2016’s presidential election — was a response to the election of Trump to the White House.
“So when [Donald Trump] gets elected in 2016, China is in a panic. So one of the things that happens is, they appoint, really, the first American, or only the second foreigner to the Bank of China,” Schweizer said. “Now, the Bank of China is government-run, government-controlled, is sort of the backbone of the Chinese government’s economic diplomacy around the world. Ten days after Donald Trump is elected, they put Elaine Chao’s sister — Mitch McConnell’s sister-in-law — on the board of directors of the fourth largest bank in the world, which is run by the Chinese communist government. It’s a shocking development, and, again, unprecedented in American history that you would have senior political leaders have immediate family members that are sitting on the board of foreign government-owned businesses.”