House rejects GOP resolution to boot Swalwell from Intel panel

The House on Thursday rejected a Republican effort to remove Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP struggles to rein in nativism Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting MORE (D-Calif.) from the Intelligence Committee over his past ties to a suspected Chinese spy.

Lawmakers voted mostly along party lines 218-200, with three Republicans voting “present,” to table a resolution that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE (R-Calif.) introduced earlier in the day after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Pelosi: House Democrats want to make child tax credit expansion permanent Pelosi announces change to House floor mask rules MORE (D-Calif.) re-appointed Swalwell to the House Intelligence Committee last week.

Republicans have seized on an Axios report from late last year that Swalwell had a connection to Christine Fang, an alleged Chinese spy who helped raise funds for the California Democrat's 2014 reelection campaign and helped place an intern in his office.

Swalwell, who briefly ran for president in 2019 and served as one of the House prosecutors during the Senate impeachment trial of former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger, Gaetz get in back-and-forth on Twitter over Cheney vote READ: Liz Cheney's speech on the House floor Cheney in defiant floor speech: Trump on 'crusade to undermine our democracy' MORE last month, was among multiple up-and-coming politicians who Fang targeted.

Swalwell was alerted by federal investigators around 2015 about Fang's efforts to gain proximity to American politicians, which U.S. officials believe were meant to gather political intelligence and influence lawmakers on issues related to China. Officials don't believe that Fang received or passed along classified information.
Swalwell has said that he promptly cut off ties with Fang and provided information about her to the FBI.

Earlier Thursday, Swalwell called McCarthy's resolution "the New McCarthyism."

"Meet the New McCarthyism. Multiple sentences in resolution state 'Swalwell has not denied...' Yet fails to include multiple FBI statements of 'no wrongdoing' and did nothing but 'cooperate.' All of this to deflect from @GOPLeader’s support for QAnon," Swalwell tweeted.

McCarthy has previously said that "there is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party," but Democrats have sought to tie him to Rep. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida QAnon site shutters after reports identifying developer Republicans head to runoff in GA-14 MORE's (R-Ga.) past belief in the conspiracy theory.

McCarthy argued that Swalwell's past connection to the alleged spy would make it hard for Swalwell to obtain a security clearance in the private sector asking about close contact with a foreign national in the last seven years and suggested, without providing details, that information from a classified briefing further solidified his case.

"[Pelosi has] got 200 other members who can serve on that committee and I think the only criteria that someone would have to meet from the very beginning would be can you have a security clearance in the private sector? If you can't meet that bar, you shouldn't be able to meet a bar to serve on the Intel Committee," McCarthy said at a press conference in the Capitol.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFree Speech Inc.: The Democratic Party finds a new but shaky faith in corporate free speech Trump backs Stefanik to replace Cheney Gender politics hound GOP in Cheney drama MORE (D-Calif.) defended Swalwell in a statement Thursday, calling him a "trusted and valued" member of the panel.

"It’s disturbing that Kevin McCarthy is attempting to weaponize classified counterintelligence briefings as a political cudgel, and use them to smear a House colleague in the process," Schiff said.

The three GOP members who voted present sit on the House Ethics Committee. The other seven members of the panel, five Democrats and two Republicans, voted along party lines. 

This article was updated on March 19 at 10:41 a.m.