“International espionage” is the sort of phrase that one expects to read on the back of a straight-to-streaming action movie, or perhaps as the theme for a Tom Clancy novel, but, over the course of the last several years, the American people have been hearing a whole lot about it.
First and foremost, there was the RussiaGate ruse, in which Democrats attempted to prove that Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was working hand-in-hand with the Kremlin in order to have Trump elected. After 22 months and $25 million spent, Special Counsel Robert Mueller declined to bring charges against Trump, however.
This week, it’s not the Russians who are in the spotlight for their efforts to coerce American politicians, however…it’s their nosey neighbors to the south.
A woman suspected of being a Chinese intelligence operative allegedly targeted several local and national politicians in the first half of the last decade, including Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), according to a report from Axios.
The woman, Fang Fang or Christine Fang, reportedly specifically attempted to curry influence with Bay Area politicians from 2011 to 2015, including participating in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign, according to the publication.
She is not believed to have obtained any classified information, but “there were some really, really sensitive people that were caught up,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told Axios. Foreign nationals are barred from donating to campaigns and Federal Election Commission records show no indication she donated to Swalwell.
It has long been understood that Beijing was looking to infiltrate the US Government, and Eric Swalwell’s team was quick to draw some distance between himself and Fang.
A spokesperson for Swalwell said the California congressman had already cooperated with federal investigations into Fang.
“Rep. Swalwell, long ago, provided information about this person — whom he met more than eight years ago, and whom he hasn’t seen in nearly six years — to the FBI,” Swalwell’s office said in a statement to Axios. “To protect information that might be classified, he will not participate in your story.”
Swalwell reportedly received a defensive briefing from the FBI as they accelerated their investigation into Fang. He reportedly immediately cut ties to her and is not accused of any wrongdoing in connection with her alleged activities, a current U.S. intelligence official told Axios.
According to the FBI, Fang was not opposed to using “honeypot” tactics either, having been surveilled by the FBI during her sexual exploits with a number of midwestern mayors.
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