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Shocked! Governor McAuliffe speaks out on federal investigation

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WASHINGTON — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday he was in “shock” to find out he was under federal investigation for campaign contributions.

The investigation dates to at least last year and has focused, at least in part, on whether donations to his gubernatorial campaign violated the law, U.S. Officials briefed on the probe said.

Speaking with reporters in Virginia in Tuesday, the Democratic governor maintained that a donation from a Chinese businessman was above board and “fully vetted.”

“There’s no allegations of wrongdoing,” McAuliffe said. “They’re entitled to do an investigation. As I say, it relates to this donor, a valid donor, had been a green card holder since 2007 and we fully vetted him.”

McAuliffe was responding to a CNN report from Monday revealing that he was under investigation by the FBI. One of the donations that drew the interest of investigators was $120,000 from Wang Wenliang, a Chinese businessman, through Wang’s U.S. business. Wang has also served in China’s ceremonial legislature.

The investigation has also scrutinized McAuliffe’s time serving on the board of the Clinton Global Initiative. McAuliffe is a member of the Clintons’ inner circle and had several donors in common with the foundation.

There’s no allegation that the foundation did anything improper; the probe has focused on McAuliffe and the electoral campaign donations, the officials said.

On Tuesday, McAuliffe said he was not aware of the allegations before CNN’s report and described the revelation as shocking.

“Shock,” he said when asked his reaction. “As I say, no one had outreached to us. … You know, our legal team, every check that came in through the campaign was vetted. And they feel, and they do to this day, very confident the guy’s a legitimate donor.”

McAuliffe was elected governor of Virginia in 2013. He succeeded Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who was convicted in 2014 of corruption charges. The Supreme Court is weighing an appeal of those charges.