Former Clinton-era State Department official pleads guilty in Chinese spying case

President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to “drain the swamp” that is Washington D.C., and his Justice Department just announced felony federal charges against a Clinton-era swamp creature that was dredged up from the State Department.

Candace Marie Claiborne, 63, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiracy to defraud the United States during her tenure in Hillary Clinton’s State Department. She also pleaded guilty to lying to background investigators and law enforcement officials about gifts and money received from Chinese intelligence agents in exchange for U.S government documents.

Conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

In a news release from the Department of Justice, the charges and details of Claiborne’s criminal conspiracy with foreign agents was exposed for the public to see.

“Candace Marie Claiborne traded her integrity and non-public information of the United States government in exchange for cash and other gifts from foreign agents she knew worked for the Chinese intelligence service,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers explained. 

“She withheld information and lied repeatedly about these contacts.  Violations of the public’s trust are an affront to our citizens and to all those who honor their oaths. With this guilty plea, we are one step closer to imposing justice for these dishonorable criminal acts,” he added.

“Candace Claiborne broke the public trust when she accepted gifts and money from foreign officials, and then lied about it to State Department background investigators,” U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu said. “The United States will continue to seek to hold accountable those who abuse their positions of trust.”

Cash and gifts from Chinese spies

Claiborne began working at the State Department in 1999 during the administration of former President Bill Clinton, and gradually moved up the ranks to become a senior official — with Top Secret security clearance — while the department was run by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Over a five year period while she worked under Hillary Clinton, Claiborne engaged in an agreement with individuals that she knew to be intelligence agents of the People’s Republic of China to provide them with internal State Department documents in exchange for cash and gifts for her and her family.

Those payments included “cash wired to Claiborne’s USAA account, Chinese New Year’s gifts, international travel and vacations, tuition at a Chinese fashion school, a fully furnished apartment, a monthly stipend and numerous cash payments.”

Investigators found evidence that Claiborne was well aware that the individuals she had conspired with to “generate 20k in 1 year” were Chinese “spies.” When asked about the situation by State Department background investigators and FBI agents, she knowingly misled them about the contacts that she had failed to report, as required by department regulation.

Could spend years in prison

Claiborne faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, as well as a maximum of five years in prison for lying to federal authorities.

She has been ordered detained until a sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for July 9. It remains to be seen if any reporters will ask Bill or Hillary Clinton for their thoughts on the matter.

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