Republicans renewed calls Thursday for Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee over his past ties to a suspected Chinese spy.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said Mr. Swalwell “has no place serving on the committee in charge of America’s top secrets” after filing a motion requesting his removal.
Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, subsequently called Mr. Swalwell a “trusted and valued member” of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and accused Mr. McCarthy of weaponizing classified information.
Mr. McCarthy, the top Republican in the Democratic-controlled House, previously led members of the GOP in unsuccessfully calling for Mr. Swalwell‘s removal from the committee during the last Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has since announced last week that Mr. Swalwell will remain on the Intelligence Committee during the current 117th Congress that recently convened.
Republicans against Mr. Swalwell staying on the panel have cited an Axios report from December that revealed the Democrat had been close with the Chinese national, Christine Fang, or Fang Fang. Mr. McCarthy later received and requested a classified briefing on the matter.
Mr. McCarthy’s two-page resolution, filed Wednesday, says that Mr. Swalwell “has not denied” what Republicans describe as “troublesome elements of public reporting” involving Ms. Fang and should be removed.
“Meet the New McCarthyism,” Mr. Swalwell responded later on Twitter. In the post, he wrote that the resolution “fails to include multiple FBI statements of ‘no wrongdoing’” and that he “did nothing but ‘cooperate.’”
The news report about Ms. Fang said that she helped fundraise for Mr. Swalwell‘s reelection campaign in 2014 and was involved in the placement of at least one intern in the Democrat’s office.
Ms. Fang vanished while under investigation in 2015, Axios reported. Mr. Swalwell has said that he has not seen her since before then and that he fully cooperated with the FBI in its investigation.
“He was given a counterintelligence briefing years ago and acted fully in accordance with his responsibilities, as we would expect of any member of our committee,” Mr. Schiff said about Mr. Swalwell. “A hard-working and diligent member, he will continue to make great contributions to our national security.”
“It’s disturbing that Kevin McCarthy is attempting to weaponize classified counterintelligence briefings as a political cudgel, and use them to smear a House colleague in the process,” Mr. Schiff added. “Members face real counterintelligence risks from sophisticated actors, and bad faith political attacks on Members will only make it more difficult to respond.”
House Republicans who said they support the motion to remove Mr. Swalwell from the House committee include Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida and Elise Stefanik of New York, among others.
“Swalwell’s actions put the national security interests of the United States in jeopardy, and he should not be in a position that oversees our nation’s intelligence agencies,” Mr. Diaz-Balart said.
“Swalwell is compromised by the Chinese Communist Party,” Ms. Stepanik alleged. “He is a national security liability and should have stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee months ago. Speaker Pelosi should never put our national security at risk.”
Mrs. Pelosi said after the reporting broke in December about Mr. Swalwell that she had no concerns with him staying on the Intelligence Committee. She announced his reappointment to the panel Friday.