Nancy Pelosi has said that she does not have ‘any concern’ about California congressman Eric Swalwell, after it emerged that he had a years-long relationship with a Chinese spy, and is now refusing to say whether it was sexual.
Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, was asked on Thursday morning about the detailed report in Axios of Christine Fang’s activities from 2011-15.
‘I don’t have any concern about Mr Swalwell,’ she said.
‘There are those who believe, and I am among them, that we should be seeing what influenced the Chinese – I have been fighting them, as you know, for over 30 years.’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Swalwell during her weekly press conference on Thursday
Eric Swalwell was just one of the California Democrats Fang had a relationship with. He refuses to say whether that relationship was sexual, claiming it’s ‘classified’
Fang targeted politicial figures in the Bay Area, initially using the cover of being a student
Pelosi said there was a need for closer examination of Chinese activities ‘in terms of their undue influence at universities in our country and the overtures they’ve tried to make to members of Congress’.
But she did not demand extra background checks on interns, and said she knew five years ago about the involvement of Christine Fang – who also goes by Fang Fang – with Swalwell.
‘I think we should make sure that everybody knows what they are being subjected to. But I don’t know that it means that we have to background check every intern who comes into the Capitol,’ she said.
‘When that was made known to the members of Congress, it was over.
‘That was the end of any communication with those people.’
Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Swalwell needs to be kicked off the House Intelligence Committee for his relationship with Fang.
But Pelosi defended Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from her home state of California, saying McCarthy was ‘trying to deflect attention’ from the fact the Republicans had a member of their party who believed in the QAnon conspiracy theories.
She pointed out that McCarthy, like her, learnt in 2015 about Fang’s spying when they were both briefed by the intelligence agencies.
Claudia Tenney, a Tea Party Republican who represented New York in the House from 2017-19, and is awaiting the results of her efforts to return to Washington – the election remains inconclusive – echoed McCarthy’s call.
Claudia Tenney appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show and called for Swalwell to resign from his seat on the House Intelligence Committee
Tucker Carlson, the Fox News anchor, asked her on Thursday night: ‘Do you believe people have sexual relationships with Chinese spies should retain their seats on the House Intel Committee?’
Tenney replied: ‘Well, not in the case of Eric Swalwell. Obviously, this is beyond a personal mistake.’
She added: ‘The situation with Eric Swalwell – I think it’s unforgivable. I think you should be removed from the Intelligence Committee immediately.’
McCarthy, a strong ally of President Donald Trump’s, told Fox News earlier on Thursday that Swalwell is a ‘national security threat.’
Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy said Rep. Eric Swalwell needs to be kicked off the House Intelligence Committee for his relationship with alleged Chinese spy Christine Fang
Rep. Eric Swalwell said he cut off ties with Fang Fang when the FBI told him of their concerns she was a Chinese spy
McCarthy said the four-term Democratic Congressman from California was ‘swindled by the Chinese.’
‘This man should not be in the intel committee. He’s jeopardizing national security,’ he said, adding, ‘When did Nancy Pelosi know of this and why did she maintain him on the committee?’
Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, has expressed support for QAnon conspiracy theories, which include the belief that Trump was elected to save the world from the ‘deep state.’
McCarthy has defended Greene in the past, saying the Republican Party is ‘diverse’ and falsely claiming she has renounced the QAnon conspiracy theories.
Pelosi was referring to Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, who has expressed support for QAnon conspiracy theories
Fang was in the United States from 2011 to 2015 posing as a Democratic fundraiser got close to Swalwell and several others
THE FANG FANG MYSTERY – WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
WHO IS ‘CHRISTINE’ FANG FANG?
Fang – if that is her real name – arrived in the U.S. as a Chinese national student at Cal State East Bay in 2011 as an undergraduate – although she appeared to be in her late 20s or early 30s. She became president of the Chinese Student Association then used her position to become part of the area’s Democratic political scene.
HOW DID SHE MEET SWALWELL?
Sometime in 2012, although exactly how is unclear but she was almost ubiquitous at political events – not just Democratic ones – in the Bay area between 2013 and 2015. Swalwell won his district in 2013, and before that was a member of the Dublin City Council. Pictures of them together are all at political events in the Bay area.
DID THEY HAVE SEX?
He refuses to say, saying their relationship is a matter of national security. If the FBI was following her and bugging her, they may have a good idea of whether the two did or not – but they could not legally have eavesdropped on him as a congressman, and if they did so intentionally, that would be a major breach of the law. Swalwell was divorced from his first wife by 2012 and married his second wife, Brittany Watts, in 2016.
HOW DID THE FBI FIND HER OUT?
Fang seems to have been monitored since she was a student but exactly when the FBI surveillance operation started is unknown. It is known that she had contact with a suspected Chinese intelligence officer stationed at its San Francisco consulate. Diplomatic communications are routinely monitored.
WHO ELSE DID SHE ENSNARE?
Fang had sex with two unnamed mayors, one of an ‘obscure’ Ohio city (anywhere with a population of more than 5,000 in Ohio is a city) and one an ‘older’ mayor from the midwest. They had sex in a car but he claimed he was teaching her English. Both encounters were overheard by the FBI. She is also Facebook friends with current and former mayors and attended get-togethers for urban leaders.
WHY WASN’T SHE ARRESTED?
It is unclear but counter-intelligence operations by the FBI are often intended to simply disrupt enemy spying and get them out of the country. Fang seems to have known she was compromised when she vanished in 2015.
DID SWALWELL DO ANYTHING WRONG?
So far the leaked FBI investigation and Swalwell’s own account is clear that he acted properly, cutting ties with her when the FBI told her she was a danger to national security. However her lingering presence in his family’s Facebook friendship circuit must raise questions about the extent to which he cut ties.
WHY DIDN’T WE KNOW ABOUT THIS BEFORE?
The FBI keeps its secrets close to its vest and disrupting a spy who was targeting at least two members of Congress would have been a major coup for its counter-intelligence agents. Letting China know just how much the agency had come to understand of Fang’s activities in her four years in the U.S. helps them hone their espionage in future to make it more difficult to detect.
They also reported that, according to FBI eavesdroppers, she slept with at least two unidentified mayors from the midwest.
Swalwell refuses to say if he had sex with Fang, claiming it’s a matter of national security that he not share more details of their relationship.
As the FBI investigated Fang and her infiltration efforts, she fled the country.
Swalwell demanded Wednesday that there be an investigation into who leaked his relationship with Fang, claiming it was done because he is an ardent critic of President Trump.
His friendship with Fang was seized on by the president’s son Don Jr. who accused the Democrat of both sleeping with her and being a hypocrite for accusing him and his father of colluding with Russia.
But the Democrat said he was the victim – and suggested his high-profile pursuit of Trump was the reason he was targeted with the leak.
‘I hope it is investigated into who leaked this information,’ Swalwell told CNN on Wednesday morning.
‘And if this is a country where people who criticize the president are going to have law enforcement information weaponized against them, that’s not a country that any of us want to live in,’ he said.
Swalwell said he first became aware that Axios was looking into Fang’s activities in July 2019, around the time he was ending his brief bid for the Democratic presidential nomination – during which he was a strong critic of Trump’s.
He was on the intelligence panel when it was conducting its impeachment investigation of President Trump.
While Fang interacted with other current members of the House, Swalwell believes the information was leaked to specifically target him.
‘I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him,’ the California congressman told Politico on Tuesday.
‘The timing feels like that should be looked at.
‘What it appears though that this person — as the story reports — was unsuccessful in whatever they were trying to do,’ Swalwell said of Fang.
‘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,’ he said.
Swalwell said he is not compromised by his relationship with Fang, and says the controversy would not cost him his seat on the Intelligence Committee.
‘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 told Politico.
Swalwell was single at the time of Fang’s mission in the United States, and did not marry his wife Brittany until 2016.
Fang met Swalwell in 2012, when her cover was a student in the Bay Area and became involved in activism and politics, moving on to fundraising activities.
Intelligence agencies were so concerned about Fang’s involvement in Swalwell’s office that they organized a briefing for Swalwell, and he said after that briefing he severed ties with her immediately.