The threat of China has been in the purview of many members of Congress “for a long time,” former federal prosecutor Brett Tolman said Wednesday, reacting to Rep. Eric Swalwell being caught up in an expansive Chinese spying operation.
“Lawmakers have been on notice for a long time. When I was [working] in the Senate in 2003, we received briefings, many of them classified, and what were they about? They were about the number one threat to our national security: the Chinese,” Tolman told “Fox & Friends.”
The former counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he has known China’s tactics “for years” and many members of Congress are “up to speed on it.”
“They were outlining for us how they would utilize its citizens, send them to the United States and target, actually target individuals in Congress to get close to them, to get close to senators in power,” he said.
Swalwell was one of several politicians caught up in an expansive Chinese spying operation, and even after he was briefed on the foreign interference he experienced first-hand, he kept his focus publicly on Russia during the Trump presidency.
Axios reported that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including Swalwell, D-Calif.
Current and former intelligence officials told the outlet that Fang used campaign fundraising, networking, rallies and romantic relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors to gain proximity to political power.
Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign, although she did not make donations nor was there evidence of illegal contributions.
According to Axios, investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns and gave him a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell then cut off all ties with Fang and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to an official who spoke to the outlet.
Fang went on to leave the country in mid-2015.