Swalwell scandal: Sensenbrenner complaint demands House Ethics Committee 'immediately' open investigation

Pelosi deflects questions about Swalwell revelations

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s not concerned about Rep. Eric Swalwell’s ability to serve in Congress despite his past connections with a suspected Chinese spy; Chad Pergram reports.

EXCLUSIVE: GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner on Friday filed a complaint to the House Ethics Committee urging the panel to “immediately open an investigation” into allegations that Rep. Eric Swalwell had been compromised by a suspected Chinese spy.

“I respectfully request the House Committee on Ethics immediately open an investigation into the allegations recently made public by an article in Axios regarding the compromising of Representative Eric Swalwell, a member of Congress and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,” Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., wrote.

Sensenbrenner was referring to a report this week that a suspected spy for China, named Fang Fang or Christine Fang, got close to a number of politicians, including Swalwell, D-Calif., and that the FBI stepped in to disrupt the situation — even giving a “defense briefing” to him.

Swalwell himself has refused to comment on the explosive story for days, aside from a brief statement. His office pointed Fox News to a statement from an unnamed FBI official to The San Francisco Chronicle. The official said, “Swalwell was completely cooperative and under no suspicion of wrongdoing… It was a defensive briefing. Information was obtained where we do a duty to warn… that he may be targeted by a foreign government.”

Axios reported that Swalwell was one of the targets of Fang, who left the country in 2015 after working her way into political circles in California. The outlet reported that she was involved romantically with at least two unnamed mayors in the Midwest.

“The story indicates that the FBI was so concerned with his close relationship with Fang that they had to warn Swalwell about his connections to a known spy in 2015, including Rep. Swalwell’s decision to place an intern in his Congressional office on Fang’s recommendations,” Sensenbrenner wrote, noting that “2015 was also when then-Leader [Nancy] Pelosi appointed Rep. Swalwell to the Intelligence Committee, providing the then-second term congressmen with significant access to highly sensitive and classified information.”

Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for Swalwell’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.

“Rep. Swalwell repeatedly refuses to answer any questions about these allegations, including whether he alerted then-Leader Pelosi to the potential compromise when she appointed him” to the House Intelligence Committee,” Sensenbrenner continued.

“It is unknown how much private and/or classified information Fang had access to as a result of her relationship with Rep. Swalwell and whether Rep. Swalwell was compromised as a relationship with her,” Sensenbrenner wrote, in requesting the investigation.

He added: “Allowing an international spy to forge a close relationship with a member of Congress and then allowing personnel decisions to be influenced by a Chinese national does not reflect creditably on the House.”

Sensenbrenner said that the reports “should be sufficient” for the House Ethics Committee to take up an investigation under Rule 18(a) “because of the violation of the Code of Official Conduct as well as the threat to National Security of the country as posed by Rep. Swalwell’s conduct,” but said that it appears, prior to his request, that “no investigation is forthcoming.”

Swalwell's office declined to comment on the complaint. 

The Wisconsin Republican submitted the complaint to the committee Friday. Once submitted to the committee, the chair and ranking member have 14 calendar days, or 5 legislative days, to determine whether the information submitted would meet the requirements of committee rules for what constituted a complaint.

Should the committee chair and ranking member jointly determine whether the requirements are met, they would have 45 calendar days, or 5 legislative days to recommend to the committee that it resolve or dispose of the complaint; establish an investigative subcommittee; or request more time to review the matter.

According to committee rules, if the complaint is not disposed of or consideration extended, an investigative subcommittee would be formed.

Investigators had become so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns, and gave him a “defensive briefing,” Axios reported. 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.

In a statement to Axios this week, Swalwell’s office said that he “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.”

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