After entanglement with Chinese spy, Eric Swalwell warned of ‘influx of Russians’ in US politics under Trump

Rep. Eric Swalwell was one of several politicians involved in an expansive Chinese spying operation and even after he was briefed on the foreign interference he experienced first-hand, he kept his focus publicly on Russia during the Trump presidency. 

Axios reported that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including Swalwell, D-Calif. 

Current and former intelligence officials told the outlet that Fang used campaign fundraising, networking, rallies and romantic relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors to gain proximity to political power. 

Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign although she did not make donations nor was there evidence of illegal contributions.

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According to Axios, investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns, and gave him a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell then cut off all ties with Fang and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to an official who spoke to the outlet. 

Fang went on to leave the country in mid-2015.

“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 told Axios in a statement. “To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story.”

His office did not provide any further comment to Fox News.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., brings up the separation of families at the border during a joint hearing of the House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examining the Inspector General's report of the FBI's Clinton email probe, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., brings up the separation of families at the border during a joint hearing of the House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examining the Inspector General’s report of the FBI’s Clinton email probe, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 19, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The former 2020 presidential candidate had become best known in recent years for his outspokenness of the Russia investigation. He repeatedly insisted that Russians colluded with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, something Special Counsel Robert Mueller ultimately put to bed. 

However, during a 2018 interview with The Hill, long after he had received a “defensive briefing” on the suspected Chinese spy that infiltrated his office, Swalwell sounded the alarm about the Russians’ involvement in American politics after suspected Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government after her attempts to infiltrate the NRA and GOP circles.

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“The Maria Butina plea today, you know, represents that over the past two years, our country has seen just an influx of Russians into our political bloodstream and that’s something that did not exist until Donald Trump came on the scene,” Swalwell said at the time. “I mean, when you look at the 16 Trump family members, campaign officials, and administration folks who had contacts with Russians throughout the campaign.”

He continued, “If you look at the Butina plea deal, you see an eagerness and a willingness to work with a traditional American adversary and I think that’s dangerous for our national security. It represents poor judgment and, as Bob Mueller is showing, it also is a crime. And so it’s all the more reason that a new Congress, you know, can put a balance of power on these abuses that we continue to see from the Trump administration.”

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Swalwell isn’t the only Democratic lawmaker who was swept up by this newly-surfaced alleged Chinese espionage. Fang also volunteered for the 2014 House bid of Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and a 2013 fundraiser for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. Khanna’s office said the congressman saw Fang at several gatherings but had no further contact, while Gabbard’s office told the outlet she “has no recollection of ever meeting or talking with [Fang], nor any recollection of her playing a major role at the fundraiser.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.