When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy kicked Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee in January, the Republican leader said the move was necessary in the interests of “national security.”
Even at the time, it was a difficult line to take seriously. In fact, The Washington Post published a detailed report scrutinizing McCarthy’s claims and concluded they were based on “specious and vague” reasoning and “figments of imagination.”
The GOP’s case against the California Democrat looks a little worse now. NBC News reported:
The House Ethics Committee ended its two-year investigation into Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., over allegations that he had ties to a suspected Chinese intelligence operative. In a letter to Swalwell dated Monday, the committee said it will take no further action in the probe that began in April 2021 into “allegations raised in the complaint that you may have violated House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct in connection with your interactions with Ms. Christine Fang,” the suspected Chinese spy.
In case anyone needs a refresher on how we arrived at this point, let’s revisit our earlier coverage and recap.
Though some of the investigatory details are not fully available to the public, in 2012 and 2014 a suspected Chinese operative reportedly tried to make inroads with Swalwell’s campaign.
The FBI alerted the congressman to the concerns, at which point he cut off contact with the suspected spy. By all appearances, the California lawmaker did exactly what one would expect him to do, and at no point did federal investigators accuse the congressman of wrongdoing.
In fact, an FBI official defended Swalwell, explaining that the Democrat was “completely cooperative” and “under no suspicion of wrongdoing.”
In 2015, then-House Speaker John Boehner and then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes were briefed on the situation, and the Republicans expressed no opposition to Swalwell continuing to serve on the House Intelligence Committee.
More recently, however, McCarthy decided to make Swalwell a villain, pointing to evidence he said he couldn’t share. The House speaker was joined by right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who last month lashed out at Swalwell during a committee hearing.
And yet, here we are. The FBI couldn’t find any evidence of Swalwell doing anything wrong, and the House Ethics Committee, after more than two years of scrutiny, has wrapped up its investigation, concluding that no further action is necessary.
I guess in theory McCarthy could reverse course and allow Swalwell back onto the House Intelligence Committee, though given everything we know about the House speaker, that seems unlikely.
This post revises our related earlier coverage.