Swalwell Denies Ties to Suspected Chinese Spy Put Him in 'Vulnerable Position,' But Notice What He Wouldn't Say


I thought I had a bad Sunday.

I couldn’t sleep the night before. My daughter, going through a case of the terrible twos, had several Alec Baldwin-level tantrums at the mall. And then the Philadelphia Eagles made the Super Bowl, a development that should delight absolutely no grown, sober, considered adult. (I’ve thus excluded almost all of Eagles fandom.)

Then again, my Sunday was better than that of California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who yet again was forced to explain his, ahem, ties to a Chinese spy.

Swalwell, as you may have heard, is one of three Democrats who were stripped of their positions on the sensitive House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Committee thanks to the new Republican majority.

As Forbes notes, seats on the select committee are determined solely at the discretion of the House speaker, and new House Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California denied seats to Swalwell, Rep. Adam Schiff of California and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

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Schiff was denied his seat due, as McCarthy put it, to “misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses,” having essentially hijacked the body to investigate a Trump-Russia collusion narrative that committee Democrats were likely aware was based on false and misleading information. Omar, meanwhile, was denied the seat based on a long history of anti-Semitic remarks that went essentially unpunished by those within her party.

Swalwell, meanwhile, has what can be charitably called the most, ahem, interesting reason for getting tossed from the panel. In 2020, Axios first reported that a suspected Chinese spy named Fang Fang, aka Christine Fang, had “developed extensive ties with local and national politicians, including a U.S. congressman” — specifically Swalwell, a California Democrat first elected in 2012.

In some cases, these ties included “romantic or sexual relationships,” which makes it a whole lot more interesting when you consider the fact that Swalwell  isn’t particularly interested in telling America whether or not he had a romantic and/or sexual relationship with Fang.

All three members appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash on Sunday to complain about being stripped of their intelligence committee seats. It was simpatico, in other words, although America at large might not be edified by Swalwell’s answer when Bash asked him if his contact with Fang put him in a “vulnerable position.”

The wording of the question is worth noting — as well as what Swalwell’s answer touched upon:

“Congressman, you were also removed by Republicans from the Intelligence Committee. What the speaker said about you is that, beginning in 2012, a suspected Chinese spy developed ties to you and to your office, even put an intern there, raised campaign funds for you,” Bash said.

“You say very clearly you cut off ties with this person back in 2015 when you found out. You cooperated with the FBI. But the bottom line question is this: Did you put yourself in a vulnerable position in any way so that this alleged Chinese spy could have benefited or even learned American secrets?”

“Absolutely not,” Swalwell said.

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He then went on to cite Schiff’s membership in group of four leaders from the House and four leaders from the Senate (known as the “Gang of Eight”) who are kept informed of intelligence activities by the White House, as well as decisions by previous House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, former Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican, and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, also a Republican.

“But, Dana, don’t take my word for it. Take the FBI’s word for it. They never talk about ongoing investigations. And former Chairman Schiff knows this, as a member of the Gang of Eight. Three different times, they came out and said two things. All I did was help them and, also, I was never under any suspicion of wrongdoing.

“But, more than that, chairman — Speaker [John] Boehner was briefed on this investigation. He could have removed me, just as Speaker McCarthy did. He didn’t. Devin Nunes was the chair of the Intelligence Committee, never made a public peep about this. Paul Ryan would have access to the same investigation, reappointed me to the committee.

Should Eric Swalwell have been stripped of his Intelligence Committee seat?

“I did what every American should have. This is some Bakersfield B.S. It’s Kevin McCarthy weaponizing his ability to commit this political abuse, because he perceives me, just like Mr. Schiff and Ms. Omar, as an effective political opponent.”

It’s at this point where an uncritical Bash turned to question Omar about her past repetition of anti-Semitic tropes. Swalwell would only speak once more during the interview, according to a CNN transcript, to say that “these smears inspire violence.”

At no point, you will notice, was he asked — nor did he volunteer — whether he did or didn’t have a romantic or sexual relationship with Fang Fang. (And let’s face it: To a Democrat in the 21st century, the two are one and the same.)

This isn’t just a matter of finally getting Swalwell to own up to what we all know. If known philanderer William Jefferson Clinton thought he could pull off telling America, with a straight face, that “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” and Swalwell doesn’t, most of us can already intuit the answer to the question.

In that case, the issue isn’t whether Fang was able to wriggle actionable information out of Swalwell or whether he put himself “in a vulnerable position in any way so that this alleged Chinese spy could have benefited or even learned American secrets.”

Rather, it’s that a member of the House Intelligence Committee is so lacking in sexual sophistication and maturity that he even needs to be asked this question in the first place.

Under Schiff’s guidance, the House Intelligence Committee spent years chasing after a phantom narrative involving Donald Trump and Russia — a narrative that included buzz of a never-substantiated tape of Trump having a sordid romp with multiple women in a Moscow hotel room long before he became president.

This sordid tape was part of the Steele dossier, a document whose contents, wherever their truth could be ascertained, have turned out to be uniformly false.

Meanwhile, a Democratic member of the same Intelligence Committee falling all over itself to paint Trump as a Muscovite candidate, Eric Swalwell, ran for president in 2020 after a) almost certainly having slept with a for-real agent of a massive foreign adversary and b) not bothering to acknowledge the fact until long after his candidacy had died for lack of public support.

He did all of this without informing voters of these very salient facts until Axios broke the news.

So excuse me, Rep. Swalwell, if I don’t just file this under “Bakersfield B.S.” It’s not just whether or not you passed on secrets to this spy you were naïve enough to have “developed ties” with. (What a euphemism!)

Rather, it’s about what you pass on to the next one. And the next. And the next.

No, no matter what kind of spin comes out of the establishment media on this, it was not a good Sunday for Rep. Eric Swalwell.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture