Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell is alleging that information about his ties to a suspected Chinese spy were leaked to the press in retribution for his vocal criticism of President Trump.
“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 told Politico on Tuesday. “The timing feels like that should be looked at.”
Between 2011 and 2015, a suspected Chinese intelligence operative, Christine Fang, developed relationships with Swalwell and a number of other American politicians, particularly in the Bay Area, as part of a Chinese political intelligence operation, a year-long Axios investigation found.
Fang, believed to have been acting at the behest of China’s Ministry of State Security, helped fundraise for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign and helped place at least one intern in the California Democrat’s office.
The investigation cites a Bay Area political operative, current and former U.S. intelligence officials, and one former elected official.
“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,” Swalwell said.
In 2015, federal investigators briefed Swalwell on their concerns about Fang, at which point he severed all his ties with her. He has not been accused of any misbehavior.
Fang also had romantic or sexual relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors over a three-year period. She was enrolled as a student at California State University, East Bay.
Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, married shortly afterwards in 2016 and has declined to answer questions about whether his relationship with Fang was sexual or romantic in nature.
“Rep. Swalwell, long ago, provided information about this person — whom he met more than eight years ago, and whom he hasn’t seen in nearly six years — to the FBI,” Swalwell’s office said in a statement to Axios. “To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story.”
Swalwell said he does not believe the controversy will threaten his seat on the House Intelligence Committee.