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Rep. Eric Swalwell refused to say if he had sex with a suspected Chinese spy who slept with 2 mayors for an intelligence campaign

Ashley CollmanThu, December 10, 2020, 2:55 AM PST

eric swalwell
Rep. Eric Swalwell. Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images
  • On Tuesday, Axios reported that a suspected Chinese spy got close to Rep. Eric Swalwell of California early in his political career and, separately, slept with two unnamed US mayors as part of a yearslong intelligence campaign.
  • Swalwell has not been accused of wrongdoing, and Axios also did not report on or suggest any sexual relationship between Swalwell and the woman.
  • But on Tuesday night, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that US intelligence officials believed Swalwell and the woman had a sexual relationship and that Swalwell’s office declined to comment on the matter.
  • Fox News told Insider that the suspicions of a sexual relationship between Swalwell and the woman came from original reporting.
  • Swalwell and his office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Insider. But he did appear on CNN to question the source and timing of the Axios investigation, suggesting someone was trying to harm him because he criticized President Donald Trump.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Eric Swalwell’s office has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Insider on whether he had a sexual relationship with a suspected Chinese spy.

The allegation that the California congressman was more than an acquaintance of the woman originally came from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, after an Axios report connected the influential Democrat to a woman who abruptly fled the US in 2015 while under investigation by the FBI.

On Tuesday, Axios published a report detailing the activities of Fang Fang, also known as Christine Fang, a woman who US counterintelligence officials believe was part of an operation to influence up-and-coming American politicians on behalf of China.

According to the report, Fang was heavily involved in Bay Area and national US politics from 2011 to 2015 and slept with at least two Midwestern mayors as part of a yearslong intelligence campaign.

Fang was also introduced to Swalwell when he was a City Council member in Dublin, California, and later helped fundraise for him and even placed an intern in his Washington, DC, office when he was elected to Congress, Axios said.

Swalwell is now one of the best-known Democrats in the House of Representatives and sits on the powerful House Intelligence Committee. He unsuccessfully ran for president in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Axios said that Swalwell immediately cut ties with Fang when he learned about her connections to China in 2015 and that he had not been accused of wrongdoing.

On his Tuesday-night show, however, the Fox News host Carlson said that “US intelligence officials believe that Fang had a sexual relationship with Eric Swalwell” and that his office refused to comment on the allegation “because such information might be ‘classified.'”

While Axios reported Fang had romantic or sexual relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors, both of them unnamed, it did not make any allegation nor suggestion that Fang and Swalwell had sex.

Swalwell’s office also did not return messages requesting clarification from Insider.

Swalwell is currently married with two children. He married his wife, Brittany Watts, in October 2016.

On Wednesday, a representative for Fox News told Insider that Carlson’s claim about a sexual relationship between Swalwell and Fang came from original reporting, without giving more information.

But he did appear on CNN, where he drew attention to how the Axios story said he was not accused of wrongdoing.

Swalwell said he was “shocked” when the FBI first informed him about Fang’s connection to China and cooperated with the agency’s investigation into her.

He also questioned the source and timing of Axios’ investigation, which started a year ago, when Swalwell was working on President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

“If this is a country where people who criticize the president are going to have law-enforcement information weaponized against them, that’s not a country that any of us want to live in,” Swalwell said. “I hope it is investigated who leaked this information.”

Asked whether he was concerned he might have passed sensitive information to Fang, Swalwell told CNN he knew he didn’t.

“The Axios story made clear that no information was ever shared,” he said. “The people who did share classified information were the people who leaked this story.”

According to Axios, senior US intelligence officials started briefing Fang’s targets in 2015, and Fang abruptly left the US for China mid-2015 during an FBI investigation into her. She has not returned to the US since, and the Justice Department has not filed any charges against her.

Accused Chinese Spy Had Sexual Encounter With Ohio Mayor: Report

  • Updated Dec 9, 2020 at 3:51pm
christine fang

Facebook Christine Fang.

Christine Fang is an accused Chinese spy who developed a web of connections with politicians in the United States, including an unidentified Ohio mayor and a California congressman.

Axios broke the story on Fang, alleging she had sexual and romantic relationships with two unnamed Midwestern mayors, including one in Ohio. She also forged political connections with a host of local and national politicians, among them a U.S. congressman, according to Axios.https://2c6c54ef1ba10b91592c848160261e63.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The report has led to speculation in the Buckeye State over the Ohio mayor’s identity, but it hasn’t been revealed. That mayor was only one of Fang’s targets as she built up a political rolodex in a suspected “long game” espionage operation. “She used political gatherings, civic society conferences, campaign rallies, and campus events to connect with elected officials and other prominent figures,” Axios reported.

She drove around the Bay Area in a white Mercedes, cultivating political connections with her charismatic personality and positions in student organizations at a local college, according to Axios.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. U.S. Officials Now Believe Fang Spied for China Over a 4-Year Period, Reports Say

christine fang

FacebookChristine Fang. https://2c6c54ef1ba10b91592c848160261e63.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The Axios report indicates that U.S. officials now believe Fang was an operative in a “political intelligence operation run by China’s main civilian spy agency between 2011 and 2015.”

Fang is a Chinese national who also uses the name Fang Fang, Axios reported, while adding that it’s not believed she ever obtained classified material during the operation.

She attended U.S. mayors’ regional conferences to build her connections, according to Axios, and authorities became aware of Fang when she had contact with another person they already had under surveillance, the outlet reported. She returned to China in 2015 after an FBI probe was started.

2. Representative Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, Was Among Fang’s Alleged Targets

christine fang

FacebookChristine Fang with Eric Swalwell.

Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, was one of Fang’s alleged targets, the Axios investigation revealed, as she “helped place at least one intern” in his office.

According to The New York Post, Swalwell is refusing to say whether he had sex with Fang. That allegation was lodged by Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter. Swalwell claimed to Politico that the story was leaked because he’s been critical of President Donald Trump.

“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.”

According to The Hill, Fang was also a volunteer for the 2014 campaign of Representative Ro Khanna and appeared in photos with Swalwell, Khanna, then-Representative Mike Honda and Representative Judy Chu, all Democrats.

According to Daily Mail, Fang did fundraising for Swalwell and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat.

Khanna’s office told the Hill that Fang’s name isn’t in 2014 campaign staffing records.

3. The Midwestern Mayor Angle Has Ohio Buzzing

The Axios report did not name the two Midwestern mayors allegedly involved in romantic or sexual relationships with Fang.

“Which Ohio mayor had a sexual encounter with an alleged Chinese spy in a car under FBI surveillance?” CityBeat asked, adding, “That’s the question that has Ohio politicos and political journalists positively aflutter today, with conjecture flying wildly via texts and DMs.”

The article doesn’t answer the question, however.

According to Axios:

Fang engaged in sexual or romantic relationships with at least two mayors of Midwestern cities. … At a 2014 conference in Washington, an older Midwestern mayor ‘from an obscure city’ referred to Fang as his ‘girlfriend’ and insisted the relationship was genuine despite the clear age difference between Fang and himself. … Fang also had a sexual encounter with an Ohio mayor in a car that was under electronic FBI surveillance. … When the mayor asked why Fang was interested in him, Fang told him she wanted to improve her English.

4. Fang Was Enrolled in College & President of the Chinese Student Association There

christine fang

FacebookA Facebook post from Christine Fang.

Fang was enrolled at California State University, East Bay, according to an archived web page that lists her getting the “pioneer pride award.”  She’s listed as “Fang Fang from the Chinese Student Association.” She also was president of the campus chapter of Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA), Axios reported.

“Traditionally, this award honors students and student organizations that have demonstrated outstanding Pioneer Pride in the campus community,” according to the announcement on the Cal State East Bay website.

One Facebook post she shared in 2012 read, “As young members of APAPA, our association helped to set up the Congresswoman Judy Chu’s meeting in Cupertino Community Hall.”

5. Fang’s Facebook Page Shows Glamour Shots & a Beauty Pageant Picture

christine Fang

FacebookA picture on Fang’s Facebook page.

Fang’s Facebook page is still up, although there are no publicly visible posts. Eric Swalwell’s father and brother, Khanna and a California mayor are still among her Facebook friends.

The page includes glamour shots and pictures from a beauty pageant.

She updated her profile and cover photos in November 2020. “Wow!Beautiful and classy as always!!Looking fabulous,Christine!!” a California man wrote. She responded with thanks.

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