Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell claimed his repeated criticism of President Trump could have played a role in why a recent report regarding his connection with a suspected Chinese spy was leaked.
Swalwell, whose relationship with Christine Fang, a Chinese national believed to be working with China’s Ministry of State Security, lasted from 2011-2015, said he believes the “timing” of Axios’s reporting should be considered during a subsequent interview with Politico on Tuesday. He was not the only target of Fang’s interest, although he was among her “most significant targets.” Fang reportedly also had sexual relationships with two unnamed Midwestern mayors.
“I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him,” Swalwell said. “The timing feels like that should be looked at.”
“What it appears though that this person — as the story reports — was unsuccessful in whatever they were trying to do,” the failed 2020 presidential candidate said. “But if intelligence officials are trying to weaponize someone’s cooperation, they are essentially seeking to do what this person was not able to do, which is to try and discredit someone.”
Fang “took part in fundraising activity for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign” as a “bundler.” The political operative who was a source for the report said they “found no evidence of illegal contributions,” and the Federal Election Commission does not show Fang making donations in her name. The Chinese national “helped place at least one intern in Swalwell’s office” and “interacted with Swalwell at multiple events over the course of several years,” the report said. Fang reportedly began her targeting of Swalwell when he was still a Dublin City, California, councilman before he was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012.
In 2015, federal agents carrying out a counterintelligence investigation into Fang “alerted Swalwell to their concerns” and provided him a defensive briefing. He “immediately cut off all ties to Fang” and “has not been accused of any wrongdoing,” the report said, citing intelligence sources. According to his congressional office, Swalwell has not seen Fang in nearly six years.
Swalwell declined to discuss his relationship with Fang, although he said he doesn’t believe this story will cost him his seat on the House Intelligence Committee.
“As the story referenced, this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about it,” he said.
Swalwell was not the only California member of Congress targeted by Fang. She “volunteered” for and appeared at a handful of events for Rep. Ro Khanna during his failed 2014 House campaign, “helped with a fundraiser” for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and volunteered in the office of former Democratic mayor of Fremont, California, Bill Harrison.
Both Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray have issued recent warnings about China’s foreign influence.
Author: Mike Brest
Source: Washington Examiner: Swalwell questions timing of Chinese spy story, suggests Trump criticism could’ve played role in leak