The House on Thursday voted to table a Republican resolution to remove Representative Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) from the House intelligence panel over his past ties to a suspected Chinese spy who allegedly targeted U.S. politicians.
Democrats dismissed the effort, brought by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, in a 218-200 vote. Every House Democrat voted to table the measure. Three Republicans cast “present” votes.
McCarthy’s resolution said the California Democrat “has not denied public reporting that a suspected Chinese intelligence operative helped raise money for Representative Swalwell’s political campaigns” and pointed to “other troublesome elements of public reporting.”
The effort comes after Axios reported in December that a Chinese woman named Fang Fang helped raise money for Swalwell’s campaign and had placed at least one intern in his office.
McCarthy argued that members who are appointed to the Intelligence committee “must possess the highest level of credibility and character” and that “no member should be compromised in any way.” Members of the committee are regularly briefed on sensitive national intelligence and Republicans are concerned Swalwell has been compromised by a foreign power.
In a letter to colleagues on Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff defended Swalwell as a “trusted member of our committee” and said the congressman had “acted fully in accordance with his responsibilities” after federal investigators alerted Swalwell to their concerns and briefed Congress about Fang in 2015.
Swalwell says he stopped corresponding with her at that time and authorities have not charged him with any wrongdoing.
Schiff said that Republican leaders, including then-House Speaker John Boehner and the then-chairman of the intelligence panel, Representative Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), were briefed on the situation at the time and “expressed no opposition to his continued service on the committee.”
In December, Swalwell’s office maintained that he had “long ago” given information to the FBI regarding Fang, He said he had met her more than eight years ago and not seen her in almost six years.
Earlier this week in an appearance on MSNBC, Swalwell said that when he was told someone who was helping his campaign “was not who we thought they were, we kicked the person out, and we helped the FBI.” He said he would not reveal any further details, saying he had “honored my oath to national security” unlike those who had leaked it several years later.
“It’s only about payback right now because of my role in the impeachment proceedings, and holding the president accountable,” Swalwell said. “And I think people see through that.”