Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., is keeping quiet about his past relationship with a woman suspected of acting as a Chinese spy.
According to reporting Axios, a suspected Chinese intelligence operative developed extensive ties with local and national politicians, including a U.S. congressman, in what U.S. officials believe was a political intelligence operation run by China’s main civilian spy agency between 2011 and 2015, Axios found in a yearlong investigation.
Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang, targeted up-and-coming local politicians in the Bay Area, including Swalwell, and across the country who had the potential to make it big on the national stage.
Fang’s relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors turned sexual, according to Axios, with at least two incidents being caught by FBI surveillance. When asked about the nature of Swalwell’s relationship with Fang, the Democratic congressman’s office declined to comment.
Between 2011 and 2015, Fang socialized, networked, campaigned, volunteered, fundraised, and developed romantic or sexual relationships with politicians to gain information and send it back to her handlers, who were believed to be stationed in mainland China. She also reportedly used her close ties to government officials and political operatives to place “subagents” as employees or interns in some political and congressional offices.
In addition to raising millions for Swalwell, a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency Subcommittee member, and placing at least one intern in Swalwell’s Washington, D.C. office, officials believe Fang may have been sexually and romantically involved with Swalwell.
According to Axios, federal investigators gave Swalwell a defensive briefing in 2015 during which they alerted him to their concerns over Fang. An intelligence official told the news outlet that Swalwell cut ties with her soon after.
Fang left the country unexpectedly in mid-2015 amid the investigation.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday night wondered whether Democratic congressional leaders were aware of Swalwell’s reported links to Fang Fang, a Chinese spy.
“Remember what Swalwell said. He accused the president of everything that he did, by lying to the American public and sitting on the Intel Committee,” McCarthy said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
“Not only should he be removed from the Intel, he should be removed from Congress as well.”
During an appearance on CNN on Wednesday, Swalwell said he couldn’t comment on the details of the situation, “but the ‘Axios’ story made it absolutely clear that no information was ever shared, except the people who did share classified information were the people who leaked this story.”
“I hope none of my colleagues ever find themselves in the position that I find myself in by having to sit down with the FBI because someone who had helped the campaign was trying to do this. But I hope every person would want to help their country just as I did,” he added.