A group of House Republicans called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to remove Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from the House Intelligence Committee following a report that he was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy in a years-long political intelligence operation.
The letter, signed by top Republicans in the House, said:
Because of Rep. Swalwell’s position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, his close interactions with Chinese intelligence services, however unintentional they may be, are an unacceptable national security risk. HPSCI handles some of the most sensitive information our government possesses — information critical to our national defense. As such, we urge you to immediately remove Rep. Swalwell from his position on the House Intelligence Committee.
Last week, Axios reported that a suspected Chinese spy named Christine Fang, or Fang Fang, believed to be working with China’s Ministry of State Security had developed extensive ties with Swalwell as part of a multi-year spy operation that lasted from 2011 to 2015.
Fang reportedly met Swalwell when he was a council member for Dublin City, California, between 2010 and 2012. Swalwell was elected to Congress in 2012. Fang reportedly had romantic relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors, and Swalwell has refused to say whether his relationship with Fang was romantic. Fang reportedly raised campaign funds for Swalwell as a bundler and helped place at least one intern in his congressional offices.
The letter noted that Pelosi had called on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from handling the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign and resign after Sessions had not disclosed that he met twice with a Russian ambassador. The House Republicans wrote to Pelosi, “by your own standards, Congressman Swalwell is unfit to serve on the Intelligence Committee.”
The Axios report said federal investigators were so alarmed by Fang’s behavior that they briefed Swalwell in 2015, after which he cut ties with her.
The letter also noted that Swalwell hid this information from the intelligence committee for five years:
Rep. Swalwell withheld information for five years from the House Intelligence Committee about an ongoing Chinese espionage operation targeted at him and his own colleagues. … . But to make matters worse, Rep. Swalwell kept this information to himself while repeatedly using his position on HPSCI to peddle damaging and baseless conspiracies about President Donald Trump’s unproven ties to Russia for years and still refuses to comment fully on the extent and nature of his relationship with the Chinese Communist Party spy exposed in Axios’ bombshell report.
The House Intelligence Committee is instrumental in overseeing our national effort to counteract our chief global rival’s espionage initiatives; for one of its members to have had an undisclosed relationship with a foreign asset in the manner described by recent reports is unacceptable and dangerous. For consistency’s sake, and more importantly, for the sake of our national security, you must remove Rep. Swalwell from his position on HPSCI.
The letter was led by Navy veteran Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and signed by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA), House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (WY), and a dozen other Republicans.
Banks’ letter, first reported by the Washington Examiner, is in addition to a letter sent by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer (KY) and other committee Republicans on Monday. Comer’s letter requested that the FBI provide Congress with a briefing on Chinese spy efforts within a week.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) reportedly told Fox Business News that Republicans would investigate if Pelosi kept Swalwell on the panel, and House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said Swalwell should step down from the committee due to members’ access to “highly classified briefings, especially when it comes to adversaries like China, like Russia.”
Pelosi last week said she was not concerned about Swalwell.
“I don’t have any concern about Mr. Swalwell,” she said Thursday at a press conference.