Congressman claims anti-Trump stance behind story linking him to alleged Chinese spy

·2 min read
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) listens during the House Judiciary committee hearing on “Oversight of the Department of Justice: Political Interference and Threats to Prosecutorial Independence”, on Capitol Hill on 24 June 2020 in Washington DC ((POOL/AFP via Getty Images))
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) listens during the House Judiciary committee hearing on “Oversight of the Department of Justice: Political Interference and Threats to Prosecutorial Independence”, on Capitol Hill on 24 June 2020 in Washington DC ((POOL/AFP via Getty Images))

Democratic representative Eric Swalwell has suggested that information linking him to an alleged Chinese spy, was leaked because of his public criticisms of President Donald Trump.

On Monday, Axios reported that Mr Swalwell, a California Congressman, was one of many Democrats who were targeted by a Chinese national called Fang Fang, or Christina Fang.

The report alleged that Ms Fang is employed by China’s Ministry of State Security, which is the country’s intelligence organisation that is responsible for counter-intelligence.

Axios reported that Ms Fang bundled donor checks for the congressman’s reelection campaign in 2014, and even helped get an intern into his office, but there was no suggestion that she made any donation or improperly handled funds.

In 2015, after US intelligence officials became concerned about Mr Swalwell’s ties to Ms Fang, they provided him with a “defensive briefing”.

The Congressman immediately cut off contact with Ms Fang after receiving the briefing, and is not suspected of engaging in improper conduct, a source close to the investigation told Axios.

Mr Swalwell was not the only Democratic politician to have contact with Ms Fang, as both Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard and California congressman Ro Khanna also interacted with her.

In an interview with Politico on Tuesday in reaction to the report, Mr Swalwell said he first became aware of Axios’ attempts to uncover details about Ms Fang in 2019, as he was winding down his brief campaign for president.

Mr Swalwell’s campaign was populated with anti-Trump rhetoric, and the congressman suggested that the information was leaked to hurt him because of this repeated public criticisms of the US president.

“I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him,” he said on Tuesday. “The timing feels like that should be looked at.”

Mr Swalwell added: “What it appears though that this person — as the story reports — was unsuccessful in whatever they were trying to do.

“But if intelligence officials are trying to weaponize someone’s cooperation, they are essentially seeking to do what this person was not able to do, which is to try and discredit someone.”

However, Mr Swalwell told Politico that he is confident that the report will not affect his position on the House Intelligence Committee.

He said on Tuesday: “As the story referenced, this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about it.”

The Independent has contacted the White House for comment.

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