Top GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee
Top Republicans in the House are calling for Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) to be removed from the Intelligence Committee following reports that he was allegedly targeted by a woman believed to be a Chinese spy.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the lawmakers, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.), said Swalwell's contacts posed a national security risk.
“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,” they wrote.
It said the panel “handles some of the most sensitive information our government possesses," and that as a result Swalwell should be removed from his position.
Axios first reported that Swalwell had been targeted by an alleged Chinese Ministry of State Security operative named Christine Fang, who also goes by Fang Fang. The woman, according to the report, helped Swalwell’s fundraising during his 2014 reelection campaign and she also helped place an unpaid intern inside his office.
The Republicans drew a parallel to Democratic calls for former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign after he met with a Russian ambassador without alerting Congress.
The lawmakers said that Swalwell should be held to the same standard as Sessions, arguing that his interactions with the Chinese agent “were more dangerous.”
“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,” they wrote.
“Obviously, Rep. Swalwell’s interactions with a Chinese spy were more dangerous and unusual than AG Sessions’ meetings with a Russian diplomat. But to make matters worse, Rep. Swalwell kept this information to himself while repeatedly using his position on [the Intelligence Committee] 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.”
Swalwell told Politico last week he severed contact with Fang after he was alerted by federal investigators of alleged suspicious activity and is not accused of any wrongdoing, adding Democratic leadership knew about the interactions.
He also questioned the timing of the report, arguing that there was political motivation behind the leak given his rebukes of the Trump administration.
Fang left the country in 2015 during the FBI investigation into her activities.
Pelosi has previously stated she has no concerns about Swalwell remaining on the panel.
"I don't have any concern about Mr. Swalwell,” she told reporters last week.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (Ind.) and GOP Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Bob Gibbs (Ohio), Greg Murphy (N.C.), Ron Wright (Texas), Ted Budd (N.C.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Fred Keller (Pa.) and Kevin Hern (Okla.) also signed on to the letter.
Other GOP lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and retiring Rep. Pete King (N.Y.), who previously sat on the Intelligence Committee, have also called for Swalwell's removal from the panel.
"I will accept Swalwell’s claim that he ended all involvement with Fang after he was informed by the FBI that she was a spy," King wrote in an op-ed in The Hill on Tuesday. "Nevertheless, the fact remains that he was compromised and made susceptible to blackmail by the Chinese, who could threaten him with the disclosure of his involvement with their alleged agent. No matter what anyone thinks of Swalwell, his appointment was not a risk worth taking."