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Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said Wednesday he was "shocked" when he discovered in 2015 that Christine Fang — a Chinese national who started working with him in 2012 — was a suspected spy who targeted him and other California politicians, as revealed by Axios.

The big picture: Swalwell is not accused of wrongdoing and immediately cut off ties with Fang after receiving a defensive briefing from the FBI, according to a current U.S. intelligence official. The California lawmaker told CNN that congressional offices don't have the "technical capabilities" to run background checks on the people they work with.

  • Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said the government needs to invest more in intelligence resources to ensure that foreign agents can't successfully conduct these kinds of operations.

What they're saying: "I was shocked. Just over six years ago, I was told about this individual and then I offered to help, and I did help and I was thanked by the FBI for my help and that person is no longer in the country," Swalwell said.

  • "[T]here was never a suspicion of wrongdoing on my part and all I did was cooperate and the FBI said that yesterday," he added.

Swalwell went on to suggest that the story was leaked to Axios by the Trump administration because of his criticism of the president and work on the impeachment inquiry as a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

  • "If this is a country where people who criticize the president are going to have law enforcement information weaponized against them, that's not a country that any of us want to live in," Swalwell told CNN. "I hope it is investigated as to who leaked this information."
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • In an interview with Politico, Swalwell said the Axios story would not cost him his seat on the House Intelligence Committee, adding that his interactions with Fang were "something that congressional leadership knew about it."

Go deeper: Read the full Axios investigation


Go deeper

Rep. Adam Schiff urges Biden to withhold intelligence briefings from Trump

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is calling on President-elect Biden to deny intelligence briefings to President Trump once he leaves office, arguing that Trump has politicized intelligence and poses a national security risk.

What he's saying: "I don't think he can be trusted with it now, and in the future he certainly can't be trusted," Schiff told CBS' "Face the Nation," on Sunday.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

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