Democratic Congressional leaders are hoping that the alleged spy scandal swirling around California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell will just go away. They have successfully convinced the mainstream media that there is no story. Swalwell himself was confident enough to emerge on Twitter to suggest that any Republican who questions the validity of the 2020 election is a “traitor.” That level of tone-deafness from Swalwell is stunning but hardly surprising, given his history.
Swalwell’s longstanding relationship with alleged communist Chinese spy Christine Fang – also known by the Bond-villianesque moniker Fang Fang – is a case study in foreign intelligence penetration. Swalwell met Fang while he was a city councilman in Dublin, California, in 2011. Fang helped him get reelected to Congress in 2014 and helped place an intern in his office.
The two remained close – just how close he says is “classified” – until 2015 when the FBI gave Rep. Swalwell a defensive briefing about Fang. This was especially important since Nancy Pelosi had by then picked Swalwell to be a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Fang soon vanished back to China, and Swalwell became a leading proponent of the debunked anti-Trump Russian collusion conspiracy theory.
The hypocrisy is remarkable. Swalwell loudly condemned Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr. for a single business meeting with suspected Russian operative Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016, after he had carried on a four-year relationship with an alleged Chinese spy. If Swalwell believed that the set-up meeting at Trump Tower was evidence of nefarious activity implicating Donald Trump, his countless private moments with Fang Fang should mean immediate disqualification from public life.
Republicans have called for Swalwell to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee, and for good reason. Someone so irresponsible has no business overseeing America’s most sensitive operations. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy noted that members of the committee “have access to many of America’s top national security secrets” and that there are “200 other Democrats who would be better to be on the Intel Committee than Eric Swalwell.”
Intelligence Committee chair and fellow Russian conspiracy theorist Rep. Adam Schiff said Swalwell “did everything right, there was no suggestion of any impropriety on his part.” But, of course there are suggestions of impropriety, and the lack of transparency on the case makes the matter even more suspicious.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has defended Swalwell, explaining that the House leadership told in the spring of 2015 that “overtures from a Chinese person were being made to members of Congress,” and that once this was exposed “it was over.” But with Swalwell there were certainly more than overtures, there was a whole four-year symphony. Fang Fang skipped the country around that time, which raises pertinent questions such as who tipped her off, how she escaped and why she was allowed to leave.
The FBI, in typical fashion, has resisted releasing any information on the scandal. The Bureau reluctantly agreed to brief Minority Leader McCarthy on what it knew, but only behind closed doors and with Speaker Pelosi present. All McCarthy could say afterwards was, “What I learned today, and anyone who was in that room with me, would never allow Swalwell to be on the Intel Committee or to continue to be on it.”
Some suggest that Swalwell’s interest in promoting bizarre and baseless charges against Donald Trump was part of an inoculation move. Byron York noted that Swalwell was “enormously interested in, perhaps obsessed with, the ‘pee tape.’” Rep. Devin Nunes stated that other House members are asking “if there are Democrat pee tapes and if they’re being blackmailed with naked pictures of their party leaders. Maybe all the Democrats’ accusations stem from what’s really happening to them.”
It would clearly be in the public interest for the FBI to reveal what it picked up during its Fang Fang investigation. We know Fang had cultivated relationships with at least two midwestern mayors, one of which was consummated in a car that was under federal surveillance. If she was running a sexual blackmail ring, voters have a right to know who was sucked into it.
President Trump has the authority to declassify and release the FBI report and briefing materials and should do so immediately. Judicial Watch also plans to make Freedom of Information Act requests for material related to the case. The Fang Fang dossier should make interesting reading. And unlike the phony Russia dossier that Swalwell and others were pushing on the public, this would have the benefit of being true.
Chris Farrell is director of investigations and research for Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog. He is a former military intelligence officer.