FBI stepped in after suspected Chinese spy got close to Swalwell, other politicians, report finds
A suspected Chinese spy got so close to a number of politicians — including Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. — that the FBI stepped in to disrupt the situation, even going so far as to give a “defensive briefing” to Swalwell, a report has found.
Axios reported that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including those who had the potential to become national figures.
Current and former intelligence officials told the outlet that Fang used campaign fundraising, networking and rallies as well as romantic relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors to gain proximity to political power. She also attended regional mayoral conferences.
While officials do not believe she received or passed on classified information, officials believed the case “was a big deal, because there were some really, really sensitive people that were caught up in the network,” one official told the outlet.
As for Swalwell, Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for the liberal congressman’s 2014 reelection campaign — although she did not make donations nor was there evidence of illegal contributions.
Fang’s earliest known engagement with Swalwell occurred through the Chinese Student Association, Axios reported, and by 2014, she had developed “close ties” to Swalwell’s office.
Fang is also reported to have placed at least one intern in Swalwell’s office and interacted with him at multiple events over several years.
According to Axios, investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns, and gave him a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell then cut off all ties with Fang and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to an official who spoke to the outlet.
Fang went on to leave the country in mid-2015.
In a statement to the outlet, Swalwell’s office said: “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. To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story.”
His office did not provide any further comment to Fox News.
Fang also volunteered for the 2014 House bid of Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and a 2013 fundraiser for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. Khanna’s office said the congressman saw Fang at several gatherings but had no further contact, while Gabbard’s office told the outlet she “has no recollection of ever meeting or talking with [Fang], nor any recollection of her playing a major role at the fundraiser.”
Khanna also expressed concern about the FBI investigations having “collateral damage” on privacy.
“I respect the need for law enforcement to protect our nation from espionage. [But] we need strict guardrails to make sure the FBI’s investigations do not have collateral damage to the privacy of American citizens or to the legitimacy of Asian Americans in this country,” he said.