Rep. Chris Stewart says Democrat with ties to Chinese spy should leave intelligence committee

Rep. Eric Swalwell said he hasn’t seen the woman in nearly six years.

(Samuel Corum | New York Times file photo) Rep. Chris Stewart speaks during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry on Nov. 20, 2019. He is calling for a Democrat on the committee accused of having a relationship with a Chinese spy to leave the committee or start answering questions about it.

Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, is calling for a Democratic congressman accused of cozying up to a woman who turned out to be a Chinese spy to either leave that committee or start answering questions about their relationship.

“I think he should be removed while we investigate,” Stewart told national Fox News on Tuesday, speaking about Rep. Eric Swalwell, 40, who ran for president briefly last year.

“He’s either got to recuse himself from the committee, or he’s got to come in and answer questions,” Stewart said.

Axios, a news site that broke the story on Swalwell, said that a Chinese spy, named Fang Fang or Christine Fang, was tasked with trying to get close to up-and-coming politicians in California. One, as far back as 2012, was Swalwell, at first when he was on a city council before being elected to Congress.

(Elise Amendola | AP file photo) Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speaks at a Politics & Eggs event in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 25, 2019 during his brief campaign for president.

The website said as Swalwell rose in the ranks, Fang became an even bigger supporter. She helped raise funds for his 2014 campaign, and she suggested that his office hire an intern, which it did.

Axios reports that U.S. officials don’t think Fang ever received classified information as she cozied up to politicians, including from Swalwell. He is not accused of any wrongdoing. After U.S. intelligence officials briefed him in 2015 on their concerns about Fang, he cut off ties with her and she returned to China.

Swalwell’s office issued a statement to Axios saying, “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.”

Stewart and other Republicans on the intelligence committee, which is privy to some of the nation’s top secrets, are pressing for Swalwell to answer more questions about what happened with the spy or to leave their committee. Swalwell says he is being targeted because he is an ardent opponent of President Donald Trump.

“The FBI and others have said a thousand times to members of Congress, ‘Be careful, you’re going to be targeted,’” Stewart told Fox News. “This is just a moment for the American people to realize just how aggressive China is in trying to collect and to spy on America.”

While Swalwell said Democratic House leaders were informed of his relationship with Fang, Stewart said committee members didn’t know about it — and more details should be shared with the intelligence committee by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“She had a responsibility to take action on that and to get some information and to get answers to these questions: ‘Mr. Swalwell, what was the relationship like? Was there a romantic relationship?’”

Stewart listed several other questions he wants answered: “How was it that she helped you raise money and that we now know that another Chinese citizen were donating to your campaign? How did she find out she was under investigation, and why did she suddenly leave the country?”

Stewart added that Swalwell appears to have ignored several warning signs about Fang, which raises questions about whether he should be a trusted member of the intelligence committee.

He said Fang “wasn’t just a girl that he grew up with down the street. She was a Chinese student. She had just barely come to the United States. She was so aggressive in developing relationships with politicians, she helped him raise money. For heaven’s sakes, how does a college student have the capacity to help a member of Congress raise money?”

He added there were “all sorts of red flags on this.”