Rep. Peter King: Eric Swalwell should resign from House Intel panel
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) must resign or be removed from the House Intelligence Committee without delay. The disclosure of Swalwell’s involvement with a female Chinese communist spy, Fang Fang, a/k/a Christine Fang, was startling enough. Yet even more startling — and inexcusable — is that the congressman was appointed and reappointed to the Intelligence Committee by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after his connection with an espionage agent was made known to her.
I had the privilege of serving on the Intelligence Committee for almost ten years, the last four of those with Swalwell. Members of the committee are briefed on highly classified, top-secret information, including clandestine military and intelligence operations, possible security threats and secret weapons systems which are made known to almost no other members of Congress except the highest ranking leaders. The briefings are held in a highly secured Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, three floors below ground level. All phones and communication devices must be left outside the briefing room, and no notations can be taken from the briefing room. Disclosure of information provided at these briefings could well result in the loss of innocent lives.
I will accept Swalwell’s claim that he ended all involvement with Fang after he was informed by the FBI that she was a spy. (There are, however, very legitimate questions why close family members of Swalwell reportedly remained Facebook friends with Fang until last week, when her alleged connection to Chinese intelligence was publicly disclosed.)
Nevertheless, the fact remains that he was compromised and made susceptible to blackmail by the Chinese, who could threaten him with the disclosure of his involvement with their alleged agent. No matter what anyone thinks of Swalwell, his appointment was not a risk worth taking.
It is particularly ironic that Swalwell is in this untenable predicament — because no one was more partisan, more self-righteous or more misleading during the Intelligence Committee’s investigation of alleged and unproven collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
At no time was there evidence of Trump campaign involvement with Russian espionage agents, despite one of the campaign’s low-level advisers, Carter Page, being illegally surveilled for Russian contacts which turned out to have no espionage or intelligence component — something which should have been obvious from the start. Yet, assuming there was a threat of Russian infiltration of the Trump campaign, why didn’t the FBI alert candidate Trump and give him the same kind of “defensive briefing” about its concerns that it gave to Swalwell after discovering his connection to Fang — or, for that matter, that the FBI gave to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) after it discovered that she had had a Chinese communist operative on her staff for many years?
At the same time, Swalwell should explain why he focused so heavily on imagined Russia collusion in the Trump case while downplaying Chinese espionage, even after learning that he and others had been targeted by the Chinese.
So long as Swalwell remains on the House Intelligence Committee, that vital congressional panel will remain under a cloud. Not only will the committee lose any veneer of bipartisanship but members of the U.S. intelligence community could well be reluctant to share sensitive information with committee members, knowing that at least one member was compromised. It is time for Swalwell to go.
Rep. Peter King has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1993, representing New York’s 2nd District since 2013, and will retire at the end of his current term. He previously chaired the House Homeland Security Committee.
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