A Republican lawmaker dared President Joe Biden to declassify an alleged report detailing the relationship between Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and suspected Chinese spy Fang Fang.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who announced this month that he is running for Senate, issued the challenge in response to the White House’s defense of Swalwell after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) removed Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee.
In a letter first reported by Breitbart and obtained by The Daily Wire, Banks said for “unknown reasons” the White House disagrees with the assessment by McCarthy and other members of Congress that Swalwell’s past relationship with Fang poses a national security risk and disqualifies Swalwell from receiving access to highly classified information.
He cited a recent press conference in which White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked for a response to Swalwell and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) being kicked from the intelligence panel. In her response, Jean-Pierre said Swalwell and Schiff, as well as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), “bring a lot to the table when it comes to foreign policy and national security.” The press secretary didn’t say much else beyond “it should be independent” before quickly dropping the topic.
To remedy any uncertainty, Banks proposed the disclosure of an alleged report described by Breitbart in July 2021. The news outlet said the U.S. intelligence community had a classified report that contained “intricate and intimate details” of Swalwell’s relationship with Fang, including “certain sexual acts they allegedly engaged in together.”
“If the White House’s position is correct and Rep. Swalwell’s past association with a Chinese spy does not preclude him from serving on the House Intelligence Committee, then the White House should immediately declassify its report on Rep. Swalwell,” Banks wrote. “If the report proves that, as the White House is suggesting, Rep. Swalwell’s relations with Fang Fang were innocuous and do not threaten our national security, then many House Republicans, including me, would support allowing Rep. Swalwell to serve on the House Intelligence Committee.”
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the letter, but such a disclosure is in all likelihood a longshot considering the level of secrecy surrounding the situation.
In 2020, Axios first broke the news about Swalwell developing a connection between 2012 and 2015 with a Chinese national named Christine Fang or Fang Fang, who helped him with fundraising and placed at least one intern in his office. A U.S. intelligence official said the congressman stopped any contact with Fang upon being briefed by the FBI in 2015, and the report noted Fang left the country “unexpectedly” in the middle of an investigation in 2015. After that report came out, as POLITICO noted, an FBI official went around telling news outlets that Swalwell was “completely cooperative” and “under no suspicion of wrongdoing.”
Still, the story spooked Washington and led to McCarthy and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) being briefed by the FBI. Immediately afterwards, McCarthy told reporters the briefing “only raised more questions. The one thing that was fundamentally answered: he should not be on Intel.” He made a similar argument just last week upon booting Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee. For her part, Pelosi said, “I don’t have any concern about Mr. Swalwell,” according to NPR. Such a view was echoed by Pelosi’s successor as leader of the House Democrats, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who this month insisted both Schiff and Swalwell were “eminently qualified” to continue serving on the intelligence panel.
When asked about the spy controversy, Swalwell often stresses his cooperation with the FBI. During an interview with CNN over the weekend, he accused McCarthy of “weaponizing his ability to commit this political abuse.” Swalwell has also leaned heavily on the sensitive nature of the situation to refrain from divulging particular details about his ties to Fang. “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,” Swalwell’s office told Axios for its 2020 scoop.