House shoots down GOP leader’s effort to eject Eric Swalwell from intelligence panel
By Karoun Demirjian
March 19, 2021 at 1:37 a.m. GMT https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/kevin-mccarthy-eric-swalwell-intelligence-committee/2021/03/18/8b8a97e0-881f-11eb-82bc-e58213caa38e_story.html The House shot down a bid from the Republican leader Thursday to kick Rep. Eric Swalwell from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence over allegations that a Chinese spy raised funds for his congressional campaign years ago.
Democrats rejected the resolution from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on a party-line vote of 218 to 200, in which three Republicans voted “present” — refusing to take a stand for or against McCarthy’s measure. Those Republicans were Reps. Kelly Armstrong (N.D.), Michael Guest (Miss.) and David Joyce (Ohio).
McCarthy’s resolution sought to oust Swalwell from the intelligence panel over the fact that he has not denied “public reporting that a suspected Chinese intelligence operative helped raise money” for his campaign and helped interns seek potential positions in his congressional office.
The resolution marks an escalation in McCarthy’s campaign to see Swalwell removed from the panel, which began in earnest late last year when the allegations about Swalwell’s ties to a suspected Chinese operative known as Fang Fang, or Christine Fang, first emerged in a story in Axios. Swalwell was one of several California politicians reportedly targeted by Fang, who did fundraising work for his campaign and was photographed alongside Swalwell at a political function. When the FBI let him know of its suspicions in 2015, he cut off contact. House leaders were also read in on Swalwell’s situation in 2015, according to people familiar with the situation, and Swalwell was allowed to serve on the Intelligence Committee.
The allegations resurfaced late last year, prompting yet another briefing to McCarthy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Though Swalwell had not been accused of wrongdoing, McCarthy emerged from a December briefing with the FBI calling for him to be removed from the Intelligence Committee. Pelosi, however, said she had no concerns about letting Swalwell continue to serve on the panel.
The speaker and minority leader appoint members to serve on the Intelligence Committee without the formal input of other members. Leading Democrats again defended Swalwell on Thursday in the face of McCarthy’s latest move.
“Congressman Swalwell is a trusted and valued member of our committee .?.?. he will continue to make great contributions to our national security,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
At a news conference Thursday and then later on the House floor, McCarthy charged that based on what has been publicly reported, Swalwell “cannot get a security clearance in the private sector” — and thus had no business being on the intelligence panel.
“Only in Congress could he get appointed to learn all the secrets of America — that’s wrong,” McCarthy told reporters. “If you can’t meet that bar, you shouldn’t be able to meet a bar to serve on the intel committee.”
To further his point, McCarthy tweeted out a picture of the form upon which individuals are required to disclose relationships with foreign nationals. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee of which Swalwell is also a member, objected to McCarthy’s reasoning on the House floor Thursday, arguing he was not only unfairly targeting Swalwell, but demanding an impossible standard.
“We all have hundreds of people in our campaigns. .?.?. Should we do an FBI investigation of every member of our campaigns?” Nadler said. “That’s absurd.”
McCarthy’s resolution comes after Democrats and 11 Republicans voted last month to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) from two committees for her embrace of certain views espoused in the extremist ideologies of QAnon, and for directing threatening messages toward other members. Swalwell on Twitter on Thursday appeared to nod to that recent history in jeering McCarthy’s resolution against him. “Meet the New McCarthyism,” Swalwell wrote, decrying McCarthy for failing to acknowledge that the FBI stated he cooperated with their investigation. “All this to deflect from @GOPLeader’s support for QAnon.”
Following the vote to kill his resolution Thursday evening, McCarthy condemned the Democratic Party for voting in Swalwell’s defense.
“Every Democrat is now on the record,” he wrote on Twitter. “They chose politics over national security.”
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Karoun Demirjian is a national security reporter covering Capitol Hill, where she focuses on defense, foreign affairs, intelligence and policy matters concerning the Justice Department. She was previously a correspondent based in The Post's bureau in Moscow.Follow https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/kevin-mccarthy-eric-swalwell-intelligence-committee/2021/03/18/8b8a97e0-881f-11eb-82bc-e58213caa38e_story.html