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House Ethics Committee closes Swalwell investigation with no further action

Rep. Eric Swalwell, center, will face no further action in the investigation, per a letter sent to him by the ethics panel. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
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The House Ethics Committee closed its investigation into allegations that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) had ties to a Chinese intelligence operative.

In a letter sent to Swalwell on Monday that the congressman released on his website the following day, the committee wrote that it will take no further action in the investigation into “allegations raised in the complaint that you may have violated House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct in connection with your interactions with Ms. Christine Fang.” Per the letter, the investigation began in April 2021.

“The Committee has previously reviewed allegations of improper influence by foreign agents and in doing so, cautioned that Members should be conscious of the possibility that foreign governments may attempt to secure improper influence through gifts and other interactions,” the committee wrote to Swalwell, a former presidential hopeful who has served in the House since 2013. “We encourage you to contact the Office of House Security for any guidance on steps you can take to prevent or address such attempts.”

In December 2020, Axios reported that Fang, a suspected Chinese spy, had been trying to get close to California politicians whom the Chinese government deemed up-and-coming. One of those politicians was Swalwell, who was photographed with the woman and other California politicians and former members of Congress at various political functions. Axios also reported that Fang had participated in fundraising events for Swalwell’s 2014 congressional campaign and that she suggested his office hire an intern, which it did.

Per Axios, U.S. officials don’t think Fang got classified information as she cozied up to politicians, including from Swalwell, and he was not accused of any wrongdoing. After U.S. intelligence officials briefed him in 2015 on their concerns about Fang, he cut ties with her. Swalwell said in a statement to Axios then that he provided information to the FBI about her and that he hasn’t interacted with her in six years. Fang has since left the country.

While Swalwell has maintained that he was not accused of wrongdoing, Republicans weaponized the allegation against him, most recently in January when House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) cited the alleged link to Fang when blocking Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee.

On Tuesday, Swalwell again highlighted his work with the FBI on this investigation and that he did not give any classified information to Fang.

“Nearly 10 years ago I assisted the FBI in their counterintelligence investigation of a campaign volunteer,” Swalwell said in a statement. “The case and my assistance were briefed to Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and two years later, Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, re-appointed me to the House Intelligence Committee. Neither Speaker questioned my actions nor politicized my cooperation.”

Swalwell — who served as an impeachment manager in President Donald Trump’s second impeachment — noted that, despite the FBI repeatedly clearing him of any wrongdoing, an unnamed House Republican still filed a complaint against him, a move he described as an attempt to level “false smears” to silence him.

“It’s time to move on,” he said. “The bipartisan House Ethics Committee had this case for over two years. They had the power of subpoena. They received answers from me in response to requests for information. Today, they are closing this matter and did not make a finding of any wrongdoing.”