By Philip Wegmann for RealClearPolitics
Within the 21st century, even spies have a social media presence, and whereas Christine Fang has not been heard from or seen since she fled america greater than 5 years in the past, the Chinese language nationwide nonetheless retains her Fb account energetic.
Fang made two posts in November. The primary, a candid picture of her face in shadow and light-weight. The second, an image of the within of the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, completely capturing the “Apotheosis of Washington.”
Painted by Italian artist Constantino Brumidi in 1865, the fresco depicts George Washington rising into the heavens and is instantly acquainted to each member of Congress.
This consists of Rep. Eric Swalwell, however in contrast to the opposite members of Congress, the California Democrat can also be very accustomed to Fang.
The lissome Chinese language spy cultivated relationships, a few of them apparently sexual, with a number of native and nationwide politicians and, if something, her image now reminds Swalwell not of glory however of his present hellish controversy.
Swalwell gained’t say whether or not his relationship with the spy included bodily intimacy or disclose a lot about their shared previous. The usually chatty congressman gained’t say a lot of something.
When confronted by a reporter after a jog Thursday morning, the sweaty former presidential candidate saved his head down as he hustled up the steps of his Washington, D.C., dwelling.
Help Conservative Voices!
Signal as much as obtain the newest political information, perception, and commentary delivered on to your inbox.
He hasn’t been capable of run as simply away from the controversy.
After Axios broke the Fang story on Dec. 8, Home Minority Chief Kevin McCarthy shortly labeled Swalwell, who eagerly sought the highlight in the course of the impeachment of President Trump, “a nationwide safety menace.”
The remainder of the caucus has adopted go well with, with GOP leaders sending a letter this week to Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding that she take away him from his submit on the Home Intelligence Committee.
However even when he’s eliminated, which appears unlikely, Republicans say the saga calls into query not simply the credibility of Swalwell however the judgment of Pelosi.
It’s the good curtain raiser for his or her coming argument within the Joe Biden period that Democrats don’t take threats from China severely.
It’s a narrative too tempting to cross up. It reads a bit of like a spy novel as a result of, nicely, it includes a spy. A lovely one.
Fang glided by Christine within the U.S., enrolling in early 2011 at California State College, East Bay, and shortly took an curiosity in Bay Space politicians.
By 2014, in response to Axios, Fang had developed shut ties to Swalwell, then a little-known Dublin Metropolis Council member. She confirmed up at occasions.
She bundled contributions for him, connecting deep-pocketed donors together with his congressional election marketing campaign. She positioned an intern in his workplace.
It was the lengthy recreation, one which counter-intelligence consultants warn China is so good at taking part in.
Swalwell was an apparent mark. In 2012, he had risen from relative obscurity, defeating an octogenarian Democratic incumbent who had represented the Northern California district since earlier than Swalwell as born.
In some quarters, and definitely in his personal thoughts, Swalwell was seen as a younger rising star in Democratic politics.
However in his second time period in workplace, U.S. intelligence took discover of one thing else. In line with Axios, it gave Swalwell a “defensive briefing” about Fang.
Swalwell reportedly reduce off ties. Fang left the nation, instantly, in mid-2015.
The identical 12 months, considerably unexpectedly given his junior standing, Pelosi named Swalwell to the Home Intelligence Committee, a plum and vital appointment given the committee’s position overseeing the nation’s intelligence neighborhood, together with the CIA.
Whereas his workplace refused to remark for the Axios story, the congressman insisted he was harmless of any wrongdoing in a quick interview with Politico.
He advised the story was a success job from a vindictive Trump White Home: “I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out towards him. I used to be on each committees that labored to question him. The timing looks like that must be checked out.”
He stated that he cooperated with the FBI and that “if intelligence officers try to weaponize somebody’s cooperation, they’re basically searching for to do what this particular person was not capable of do, which is to attempt to discredit somebody.”
Swalwell additionally predicted that he wouldn’t lose his seat, saying “this goes again to the start of the final decade, and it’s one thing that congressional management knew about.”
Swalwell hasn’t elaborated concerning the nature of his relationship with Fang, and his workplace continues to stonewall media inquiries. RealClearPolitics’ calls to his workplace had been unreturned.
However two Republicans on the Intelligence Committee individually advised RCP they don’t need Swalwell anyplace close to state secrets and techniques.
Sitting on the committee makes members of Congress much more of a goal. This modified the habits of Rep. Rick Crawford.
After becoming a member of the panel, the Arkansas Republican says he has severely restricted the variety of conferences he takes with representatives from overseas nations, retains a more in-depth eye on who comes into contact with aides, and frequently has Capitol Police sweep his workplace for bugs.
And with good motive: Earlier this 12 months, Nationwide Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe warned Congress that as many as 50 members have seemingly been focused by overseas affect.
Crawford’s response to the Swalwell information? “Fairly frankly, I’m not even remotely comfy with him within the room,” he advised RCP, given the delicate nature of the fabric the committee oversees.
Crawford doesn’t make a lot of his colleague’s insistence that he’s working with the authorities: “It’s a redirect. No person’s attempting to recommend that he’s not cooperating. However being cooperative doesn’t change the truth that you’re compromised.”
What’s extra, he added, Swalwell may nonetheless be a legal responsibility on condition that “we don’t know the extent to which their relationship might need put him ready to be blackmailed.”
One other colleague who doesn’t make a lot of Swalwell’s cooperation is Rep. Elise Stefanik. The New York Republican advised RCP that “Swalwell ought to step down from the Home Intelligence Committee and seem earlier than the Home Ethics Committee.”
To date that appears unlikely, however Stefanik notes that Pelosi appointed Swalwell and Pelosi can boot Swalwell.
She desires to know why the Democratic speaker even entrusted him with the place on condition that “this isn’t a latest infiltration — this goes again to when he was initially operating for workplace when this Communist Chinese language spy infiltrated his marketing campaign.”
Crawford and Stefanik and the remainder of Home GOP caucus are more likely to be disenchanted. Requested concerning the Axios story final week, Pelosi responded, “I don’t have any issues about Mr. Swalwell.”
On the similar time, many different Republicans might be delighted.
After listening to Swalwell lambast Trump for his alleged collusion with Russia just a few years after coming in direct contact with a Chinese language agent, they’re prepared to show the tables.
If he stays on the Intelligence Committee, the GOP stands able to make him a poster boy. “The scenario with Swalwell, similar to the scenario with Hunter Biden, ties collectively the most important weak point Democrats have: That they’re smooth on China,” a former White Home official stated. “That is going to be an ongoing problem for Democrats.”
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content material companions are their very own and don’t essentially mirror the views of The Political Insider.