China

Swalwell, California politicians targeted by Chinese spy: report

A woman suspected of being a Chinese intelligence operative allegedly targeted several local and national politicians in the first half of the last decade, including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), according to a report from Axios.

The woman, Fang Fang or Christine Fang, reportedly specifically attempted to curry influence with Bay Area politicians from 2011 to 2015, including participating in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign, according to the publication.

She is not believed to have obtained any classified information, but “there were some really, really sensitive people that were caught up,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told Axios. Foreign nationals are barred from donating to campaigns and Federal Election Commission records show no indication she donated to Swalwell.

A spokesperson for Swalwell said the California congressman had already cooperated with federal investigations into 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,” Swalwell’s office said in a statement to Axios. “To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story.”

Swalwell reportedly received a defensive briefing from the FBI as they accelerated their investigation into Fang. He reportedly immediately cut ties to her and is not accused of any wrongdoing in connection with her alleged activities, a current U.S. intelligence official told Axios.

Fang, who reportedly helped place at least one intern in Swalwell’s office, is believed to have overseen subagents through such efforts, many of whom did not realize they were part of the operation. She left the country in 2015 amid the investigation.

She also reportedly attempted similar influence operations on other Bay Area politicians, volunteering for Rep. Ro Khanna’s (D) failed 2014 campaign.

Khanna’s office has said he did not receive an FBI briefing like Swalwell’s and that her name does not appear in records of the 2014 campaign staff. Fang has been photographed with several California politicians, including Swalwell, Khanna, then-Rep. Mike Honda (D) and Rep. Judy Chu (D).

Over a three-year period, two officials told Axios she also had romantic relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors. At least two sexual interactions between Fang and elected officials were allegedly recorded during FBI surveillance, according to Axios.

Tags Campaign finance Christine Fang Eric Swalwell FBI influence campaigns Interns Judy Chu Mike Honda Ro Khanna United States intelligence agencies
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