“As our nation faces a growing security threat from the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) attempts to infiltrate and undermine the United States Government, we write to request a full briefing regarding counterintelligence threats to Members of Congress, including information related to Rep. Eric Swalwell’s ties to a suspected Chinese intelligence operative,” reads the letter from 14 House Republicans.
The lawmakers referred to public reporting that Swalwell was among a group of politicians targeted by the alleged CCP spy, known as Fang Fang or Christine Fang.
A report by Axios on Dec. 7 claimed that Fang built up an extensive network of contacts with up-and-coming politicians in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Swalwell. The report said Swalwell cut ties with her after investigators gave him a “defensive briefing,” and that he provided information about her to the FBI.
Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that he didn’t do anything wrong and accused Republicans of trying to weaponize the Axios report.
“I was told about this individual, and I offered to help,” he told CNN. “All I did was cooperate, and the FBI said that.”
But national security concerns have persisted, given Swalwell’s membership on the House Committee on Homeland Security, whose members have access to sensitive classified information.
“This breach of our national security is especially concerning,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, saying that unauthorized disclosure of top-secret information that committee members are privy to “could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage” to the country’s security.
The Republicans pointed to the CCP’s engagement in a “highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign” in the United States, which includes bribery and blackmail, along with the CCP’s successful attempts to influence politicians, as reasons for a briefing.
They called on Wray to brief the Homeland Security panel about “Rep. Swalwell’s relationship with Fang and any potential exposure of classified information” so that its members can consider whether to limit Swalwell’s future access to classified information.
Earlier, top Republicans in the House called for Swalwell’s removal from the committee.
Swalwell’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment after the Axios report was published.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.