House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Rep. Eric Swalwell on Thursday amid reports of his connection to an alleged Chinese spy that targeted California politicians.
Mrs. Pelosi said attempts made by the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to demand Mr. Swalwell be removed from the House intelligence committee is an attempt to distract from a handful of his own members linked to QAnon conspiracies.
“I don’t have any concern about Mr. Swalwell,” Mrs. Pelosi said of her fellow California Democrat. “What [Mr. McCarthy’s] trying to do is trying to deflect attention from the fact that he has QAnon in his delegation over there. And that I think is a danger, too, in terms of our debate here about, you know what the possibilities are for undue influence to members of Congress.”
Suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang interacted with Mr. Swalwell several times, raised funds for his 2014 reelection bid and managed to help place an intern in his office, Axios reported.
Mr. Swalwell was one of the most significant on the list of targeted California politicians. A current U.S. official told Axios that he cut ties with Mr. Fang around 2015 when they alerted him to their suspicions.
Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, has repeatedly questioned Mr. Swalwell since the report surfaced this week.
“Rep. Swalwell has long been disqualified from serving on the Intel Committee,” he tweeted. “For years he peddled Russian disinformation for political gain. Now we find out he was involved in an effort by a reported spy to gather info for China. Swalwell is a national security liability.”
Mrs. Pelosi said that she remains concerned about the larger threat of China attempting to assert influences in U.S. schools and on American officials, but not specifically regarding Mr. Swalwell.
She explained that both Republican and Democratic leadership found out at the same time that officials were targeted, and argued it was disingenuous for Republicans to make an issue of it now after nearly five years.
“We knew when they knew and at that time, that was the end of it,” she said.