House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) defended Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Thursday, saying she doesn’t “have any concern,” despite a bombshell report revealing the member of the Intelligence Committee was compromised by an alleged Chinese spy.
“I don’t have any concerns about Mr. Swalwell,” Pelosi said during her weekly news conference.
“There are those in the Congress who believe, and I am among them, that we should be seeing what influence the Chinese — I’ve been fighting them, as you know, for over 30 years — in terms of their undue influence in universities in our country, and the overtures they try to make to members of our Congress,” she added.
On Tuesday, Axios revealed that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang was an operative for China’s Ministry of State Security, the country’s top intelligence organization, and targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including Swalwell. Fang reportedly helped fundraise for Swalwell’s 2014 campaign and even managed to install one intern in his office.
The House Speaker insisted that she along with Committee leaders and Republican leadership were all informed at the same time by intelligence agencies in the spring of 2015 regarding Fang’s plot to infiltrate the U.S through Swalwell, calling it “unfortunate” that the House Minority leader is making “an issue of this.”
“In terms of Mr. Swalwell, in the spring of 2015, the leadership of the House and the Committee were informed that overtures from a Chinese person were being made to Members of Congress. When that was made known to the Members of Congress, it was over. You know, that was the end of any communication with those people,” Pelosi said. “I do think that it’s unfortunate that Mr. McCarthy is trying to make an issue of this when we all found out at the same time, the Republican leadership, that several Members had been approached.”
“We were all at the same moment. The House Republican and Democratic leaders and the leadership of the Committee were briefed at the same moment. Make sure you know that, because he keeps throwing out saying, ‘When did they know?’ We knew when they knew. And at that time, that was the end of it,” she added.
Swalwell was provided by the FBI a “defensive briefing” in 2015 that alerted him with counterintelligence concerns of Fang’s behavior and activities, and said to have immediately cut off contact with the Chinese spy. He refused to discuss the extent of his relationship he had with Fang, but profess he did not share any sensitive information with her before receiving the Defense Briefing.
However, a source congressional Republican source told the New York Post that House Intelligence Committee Republicans were surprised to learn this week about the scandal of Swalwell’s relationship with the honeytrap Chinese spy and “had not been informed of the relationship” back in 2015.
The Minority Leader noted Thursday morning that he was unaware that Swalwell had contact with the Chinese Mata Hari until it came to light publicly earlier this week.
“Speaker Pelosi was notified. I was not. I’m going to ask the FBI director to brief me,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox & Friends Thursday morning. “As a leader and a member of the Gang of Eight, I did not know of this.”
Pelosi dismissed GOP calls to remove Swalwell from the panel, admonished McCarthy for trying to “deflect attention” that a fellow Republican congress member is a QAnon member, whom she is claiming the group’s influence is much bigger threat than one of her fellow Democrats being infiltrated by a Chinese spy.
“He’s trying to deflect attention from the fact that he has QAnon in his delegation over there,” Pelosi said, referring to two Congresswoman-elects Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia and Lauren Boebert from Colorado, both of who are considered proud supporters of the unconventional QAnon conspiracy theory. “And that I think is a danger in terms of our debate here about, you know, what the possibilities are for undue influence to Members of Congress.”
McCarthy along with other top Republicans in the wake of the Axios report has called for the removal of Swalwell’s membership from the House Intelligence, a secretive committee that has access to top classified material and oversees activities of the U.S. intelligence community.
“This man should not be in the intel committee. He’s jeopardizing national security,” McCarthy said. “This is a national security threat. Now we have Eric Swalwell, who’s been swindled by the Chinese, but what’s even more interesting here is why did he attack the American Director of Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s report talking about the expansion of China spying just last week.”
“When did Nancy Pelosi know of this and why did she maintain him on the committee? Adam Schiff, who has spent four years as chair worried about the foreign intervention into our country, knowingly keep an individual on the committee, if he knew, as Swalwell says, that he was with a Chinese individual who was a spy, who helped him run for Congress?” he added.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) warned on Thursday that Swalwell “got our most important secrets” serving in the Intelligence Committee and “has access to information that could hurt us” given his ties to the alleged “relationship with the Communist Party of China.”
“This is so basic. Nancy Pelosi cannot allow him to stay on the intelligence committee,” Scott said Thursday morning on FOX Business‘ “Mornings with Maria,” noting he sent a letter to the House speaker in calling for Swalwell’s removal from the committee.
“Swalwell’s failure of judgment is astounding and he must put national security first and step down from his post immediately,” Scott added. “Swalwell sits there and is part of the Russia disinformation campaign against Trump, he’s got this relationship with this spy from the Communist Party of China, we know the Communist Party of China is doing everything they can to kill our way of government and our way of life and Swalwell’s got our most important secrets because he’s on intelligence.”
Pelosi appointed Swalwell in 2015 to the House Intelligence Committee, which led the impeachment investigation into President Trump. The House Speaker is reported to have “full confidence” in Swalwell’s performance to serve on the Intelligence Committee and will back his membership renewal for the next session of Congress.
“The speaker has full confidence in Congressman Swalwell’s service in the Congress and on the Intelligence Committee,” Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill said. “Minority Leader McCarthy is trying to distract from his continued kowtowing to QAnon and his refusal to heed the call of the Anti-Defamation League to refuse to seat his QAnon members on congressional committees, including critical national security committees.”