An alleged Chinese spy bundled campaign contributions for California Rep. Eric Swalwell and planted an intern in the Democrat’s congressional office, according to a new report.
U.S. intelligence officials said that Christine Fang, the alleged Chinese operative, cozied up to multiple politicians in the California Bay Area between 2011 and 2015 at the direction of China’s Ministry of State Security, its internal spy agency, Axios reported Monday night.
Meanwhile, John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, revealed in a Thursday opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal that Chinese agents have targeted U.S. lawmakers more than any other country, including Russia and Iran, in order to shape U.S. policy in favor of Beijing.
Ratcliffe said in a Sunday interview that he had briefed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on the influence efforts. Swalwell, who was elected to Congress in 2012, was appointed to the House committee on Jan. 14, 2015.
According to Axios, Fang began cultivating ties to American politicos through student organizations at California State University East Bay, where she enrolled in 2011. She was president of two groups at the school: the Chinese Student Association and the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs.
Through her connections with those groups, Fang attended political events and fundraisers for several prominent Democrats, including Reps. Swalwell, Ro Khanna, Judy Chu, and former Rep. Mike Honda. (RELATED: China Targeting US Lawmakers As Part Of ‘Massive Influence Campaign’)
Axios also reported that Fang had intimate relationships with two mayors from cities in the Midwest.
Fang developed the closest ties with Swalwell, according to Axios, which cited unnamed current and former U.S. intelligence officials. She began supporting his political career in the early 2010s, when he was a city councilman in Dublin, California. Axios published three photos of Fang with Swalwell at political events.
Fang raised money to help Swalwell’s reelection campaign in 2014 and placed at least one intern in his congressional office, according to Axios.
Axios did not report that Swalwell was aware of Fang’s covert activity. He has also not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Swalwell’s office issued a statement saying that he cut ties with Fang after the FBI provided him a defensive briefing on the matter in 2015.
“Rep. Swalwell, long ago, provided information about this person — whom he met more than eight years ago, and whom he hasn’t seen in nearly six years — to the FBI. To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story,” Swalwell’s office told Axios.
According to the website, Fang suddenly left the U.S. in mid-2015.
Swalwell was a prominent fixture on television during the Russia probe, appearing in interviews where he pushed the now-debunked claim that President Donald Trump and members of his campaign of colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
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