House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday he will offer a resolution next week to remove California Democrat Eric Swalwell from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, an effort a senior Democratic aide called a "waste of time" that won't go anywhere.
"Pelosi just reappointed Eric Swalwell to the Intelligence Committee. Based on the briefing she and I received together, Swalwell should not be on the panel in charge of guarding our nation's secrets," McCarthy said in a tweet.
His tweet references a briefing from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and McCarthy received from the FBI on December 18, 2020, about Swalwell's contacts with a suspected Chinese intelligence operative, according to a McCarthy aide.
According to a 2020 story by Axios, the operative, named Christine Fang or Fang Fang, made contact with several Bay-Area politicians between 2011 and 2015 as part of an intelligence operation run by China's civilian spy agency. She assisted with fundraising for Swalwell's 2014 re-election campaign, helped place at least one intern in his office, and interacted with the congressman over multiple events.
Axios also reported that a current senior U.S. intelligence official did not believe Fang passed or received any classified information, and federal investigators alerted Swalwell to her activities in 2015, at which point he cut off all ties.
At the time of the story, Swalwell's office acknowledged that he met Fang more than eight years ago and that he provided information about her to the FBI when informed of her identity. He had not seen her in six years.
After McCarthy's tweet Friday, Swalwell said, "I'm eager to continue the important work of protecting Americans and supporting the hard-working heroes of our Intelligence Community, and I thank Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff for their support and confidence."
A senior Democratic aide said McCarthy's resolution would be "tabled," or dismissed by the House, instantly, calling it a "waste of time." Swalwell, the aide said, had acted appropriately and hasn't been accused of doing anything wrong.
"Republicans should be very wary of starting something like this," the aide warned. "Their conference is brimming with exposure."
GOP lawmakers pointed to the story to try to discredit Swalwell when he served as one of the impeachment managers during the Senate trial for former President Trump last month and to warn that it would be grounds to strip him of his committee assignments should Republicans retake power in the House — just as Democrats moved to strip Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments earlier this year. Greene's removal came in the wake of comments she had made before her congressional campaign in which she had voiced support for QAnon conspiracy theories and other racist and anti-Semitic remarks.