From 2011 to 2015, a suspected female Chinese spy, “Fang” Fang, cultivated extensive ties with local and national politicians, including U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif).
Over three years, Fang reportedly had romantic relationships or sex with at least two Midwestern mayors, including at least one in Ohio. Rep. Swalwell has not disclosed details of his relationship with Fang.
It’s unclear why intelligence sources are now leaking information about the alleged spy operation.
Sources leaking information are apparently being evasive about the date the FBI privately gave “defensive briefings” to Rep. Swalwell and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The original news report by Axios stated that FBI gave the briefings to Rep. Swalwell, Rep. Pelosi, and others “around 2015.” However, Rep. Swalwell acknowledged in a subsequent interview that the FBI contacted him earlier, in late 2014.
The 2014 timeline would mean that Rep. Swalwell, Rep. Pelosi, the U.S. intelligence community and the Communist Chinese knew of Rep. Swalwell’s suspected spy contacts, but chose to not reveal them to the public.
Shortly thereafter, Rep. Pelosi assigned Rep. Swalwell to a coveted and sensitive spot on the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Pelosi also gave Swalwell the Democrats’ top spot on the Central Intelligence Agency Subcommittee, where Rep. Swalwell would serve as a point man for the intelligence community’s false narrative that Trump and his associates were Russian spies.
The FBI had recently also informed then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) that her staffer of 20 years was a Chinese spy, according to later reports; but neither Sen. Feinstein nor the FBI informed the public at the time. The FBI is said to have concluded the spy did not steal important information and the person was allowed to quietly retire.
The intelligence community’s approach to Rep. Swalwell and Sen. Feinstein is in stark contrast to the FBI’s treatment of the Trump campaign. Intel officials informed Rep. Swalwell and Sen. Feinstein of their contacts with suspected spies, did not investigate or attempt to prosecute Rep. Swalwell or Sen Feinstein, and kept the whole scandal quiet. However, when it came to Trump and his associates, intel officials declined to alert or question them about Russians supposedly bent on compromising them. Instead, the intelligence agencies targeted Trump and his associates, as if criminals, and leaked information implicating them— some of it false— to the news media. Then, the Department of Justice prosecuted numerous Trump associates for unrelated alleged crimes.
When intel officials inform members of Congress about their contacts with suspected spies, but keep it secret from the public, could bad intel actors use the information as leverage against the public officials, who serve on committees making important decisions on oversight of the intelligence community?
The following timeline is based on events and allegations as reported by the media. All of those who had contacts with alleged Chinese spies say they do not remember the contacts or were unaware the subjects were spies, and did not do anything wrong.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) hires a staffer who is allegedly secretly recruited at some point by Communist China.
Alleged Chinese spy “Fang” Fang enrolls at California State University East Bay. She serves as president of the Chinese Student Association and president of the school’s Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) chapter.
Democrat Eric Swalwell files to run for Congress.
News articles state that Swalwell is divorced from an unnamed wife “by 2012.”
Swalwell meets Fang. Fang becomes a high value “bundler” fundraiser for Swalwell and other candidates. She recommends interns for Swalwell’s Washington D.C. office, successfully placing one of them.
Swalwell is elected to Congress.
Fang reportedly helps with a fundraiser for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) who later runs for president.
The FBI reportedly secretly tells Sen. Diane Feinstein that the Chinese have recruited a staffer she’s employed for 20 years. Feinstein is Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The staffer is allowed to retire. Robert Mueller is FBI Director.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper gives false testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee led by Sen. Feinstein. Clapper denies the existence of mass surveillance of U.S. citizens. When his testimony is revealed as untrue, there are calls within Congress for Clapper to be prosecuted for perjury and/or resign. They are soon dropped.
Sept. 4, 2013:
James Comey becomes FBI Director.
Fang reportedly attends two mayor-focused events in Washington D.C. During one of the events in March, a Midwestern mayor is reportedly heard referring to Fang as his “girlfriend.” Fang is also photographed at the Chinese Embassy with Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif) and San Jose city councilmember Ash Kalra, a Democrat who was later elected to the California State Assembly in 2016.
Fang also reportedly has a sexual encounter with an Ohio mayor in a car under electronic FBI surveillance.
Fang reportedly takes part in fundraising activities for Rep. Swalwell’s re-election campaign.
Fang volunteers for Democrat Ro Khanna's unsuccessful 2014 House bid. Khanna is later elected to the House in 2016.
The CIA gets caught spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staff computers to thwart an investigation into the CIA. CIA Director John Brennan initially denies it, then admits it when the spying is revealed in an Inspector General report. Though there are calls for Brennan’s resignation, the Obama administration defends him, and Intelligence Committee Chairman Feinstein forgives him.
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Rep. Swalwell wins a second term in Congress.
Somewhere around this time period, according to a later public interview by Rep. Swalwell, the FBI communicates with him about Fang. Rep. Swalwell says he cuts off his relationship with Fang at this time.
“Senior U.S. intelligence officials” reportedly “provide multiple defensive briefings” to Obama White House officials, then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and “targeted local and national politicians about Fang's connections to Chinese intelligence and potential Chinese assets in their offices.” The public is not told, and it does not leak to the press.
Jan. 24, 2015:
Despite Rep. Swalwell’s recent relationship with an alleged Chinese spy, Rep. Nancy Pelosi announces she’s promoting Rep. Swalwell to a spot on the sensitive and coveted House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Swalwell also becomes ranking member of its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Subcommittee.
June 2, 2015:
Fang is scheduled to attend an event in Washington D.C., but on a date somewhere around this time, she is allowed to leave the country.
June 16, 2015:
Donald Trump announces his candidacy for president.
The FBI reportedly contacts Democrat Bill Harrison about Fang, a volunteer in his office.
Swalwell marries his second wife.
Donald Trump is elected president.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi says Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign for not publicly disclosing two “incidental” meetings he had with Russia’s U.S. ambassador over time.
May 9, 2017:
FBI Director James Comey is fired.
May 17, 2017:
Former FBI Director Mueller is appointed as Special Counsel to investigate Trump-Russia spy accusations. Two years later, he would report that neither Trump, his associates, or any Americans colluded with Russia.
Jan. 18, 2019:
Swalwell falsely implicates President Trump is a Russian spy and criticizes Trump’s son's “meeting with a Russian spy” in January 2019.
April 8, 2019:
Rep. Swalwell announces he’s running for president.
FBI creates a unit dedicated to countering Chinese spies at the state and local levels.
Rep. Swalwell reportedly first becomes aware that the website Axios is looking into the Fang story. Rep. Swalwell drops out of the presidential race. Axios would not report the story until after the election 17 months later.
FBI director Chris Wray says China "is engaged in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign” involving "subversive, undeclared, criminal, or coercive attempts to sway our government’s policies, distort our country's public discourse, and undermine confidence in our democratic processes and values.”
Dec. 18, 2020:
Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy receives what he says is his first FBI briefing on the topic after numerous cancellations by the FBI. Rep. McCarthy says Rep. Pelosi’s previous statements that he was briefed back when she was—are false.