The House’s top Republican weighed in on the developing scandal surrounding former presidential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., after a close associate of Swalwell’s was discovered to be a Chinese spy.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg because remember what we’re hearing. These are Chinese spies that go down to the level of a mayor,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle” in a segment with his former congressional colleague Jason Chaffetz.
The grandstanding Swalwell—a native of Sac City, Iowa, home to the world’s largest popcorn ball—climbed the political ladder using a combination of boyish charm and ruthless opportunism to become representative of California’s 15th Congressional District, just southeast of Oakland and Berkeley on the San Francisco Bay.
Like fellow California Democrat Adam Schiff, Swalwell hoped to capitalize on the impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump last year to make a name for himself, but his presidential campaign failed to gain traction in the crowded field.
Swalwell’s presidential aspirations quickly deflated following an alleged bout of on-air flatulence, which he vigorously denied.
However, the espionage scandal may be his most embarrassing moment to-date.
Suspected spy Christine Fang developed ties with several Bay Area congresspeople but was closest to Swalwell, according to reports—so much so that federal agents had to step in and alert him.
Fang has been described in some dispatches as a “honey trap” for China’s Ministry of State Security who reportedly cultivated sexual relationships with at least two unnamed Midwestern mayors.
Although the precise nature of her relationship to Swalwell remains unclear, she was a major fundraiser in his 2014 re-election campaign.
In 2015, “amid a widening counterintelligence probe, federal investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and actives that they alerted Swalwell to their concerns—giving him what is known as a defensive briefing,” Axios reported.
Nonetheless, Republican members of congress were never alerted to Swalwell’s relationship with a Chinese spy, nor did the issue come up in his 2016, 2018 or 2020 campaigns for Congress and the White House.
McCarthy said Fang may have played a major role in Swalwell’s political ascension from a lowly spot on the city council in Dublin, Calif.
And he wondered what other high-powered officials in the House might have likewise been infiltrated, up to and including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco congresswoman.
Pelosi reclaimed the speakership after Democrats took the majority in 2018, but Swalwell’s China links were known at least three years earlier.
“[China] helps a city council member become a congressman. This congressman now gets on the intel committee,” McCarthy said.
“They are only selected from the intel committee by the leaders of their party, meaning Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi is one of the Gang of Eight, along with myself,” McCarthy continued. “Did Nancy Pelosi know this had transpired when she put him on the committee?”
Swalwell deflected from the scandal on Wednesday by claiming that a left-wing media outlet had intentionally targeted him due to his recent Trump criticism—a recurring them in his rhetoric during the Republican administration.
In an interview with Politico, Swalwell claimed that the story broken by Axios—a publication founded by two of Politico‘s founding editors—was part of a vast right-wing conspiracy.
“I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him,” Swalwell said Tuesday. “The timing feels like that should be looked at.”
He also hinted that top Democrats were aware of his China ties, suggesting that made it OK.
“As the story referenced, this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about it,” Swalwell said.
However, in a letter to Pelosi, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., joined the growing chorus to call for Swalwell to be stripped of his committee spots.
“Eric Swalwell has no place on the House Intelligence Committee,” Scott said.
“His reported ties to a Chinese spy backed by the Communist Party of China are shocking and show just how far President Xi is willing to go to gain access to critical U.S. intelligence,” he continued.
Scott also pointed to the ironic hypocrisy of Swalwell’s in being one of the biggest alarmists regarding now debunked accusations that Trump may have colluded with Russia.
“Swalwell spent years promoting Russian disinformation in an effort to take down the President, when in fact he was being used as a pawn by the Chinese government, which we know is doing everything in their power to expand their influence,” said the letter.
“Swalwell’s failure of judgement is astounding and he must put national security first and step down from his post immediately,” it continued. “Let this be a lesson to all Americans—we must open our eyes to the threat posed by Communist China.”