There are two obvious questions in the Eric Swalwell case, regarding his sexual compromise by a Chinese spy: Who knew what, and when did they know it?
Notice that I framed the question in the plural.
This afternoon James Freeman in his Best of the Web column at the WSJ claimed to offer us:
Did a communist spy know the congressman was about to assume oversight of the CIA?
What good is a timeline if none of the obvious names show up? As far as I can tell from the article, Swalwell--by his own words--was likely to have been contacted by the FBI as early as 2014 or even earlier:
According to the Axios story, the interactions included the alleged agent known as Fang Fang or Christine Fang placing an intern in Rep. Swalwell’s office and also helping to raise funds for his 2014 re-election campaign. Axios reported that the FBI gave Mr. Swalwell a defensive briefing sometime around 2015 to warn him of the threat.
Since Axios broke the story, one of the few disclosures Mr. Swalwell has been willing to make occurred in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, when the lawmaker clarified the timeline. Mr. Sciutto asked the Congressman if he had had any concerns about the woman before receiving the defensive briefing from the FBI. Rep. Swalwell responded:
No. Jim, I was shocked when, you know, 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.
If Mr. Swalwell’s story is accurate, it means he was told sometime in late 2014 or earlier that he had unwittingly been conducting a relationship with a communist spy.
Now, here's the only really solid date we have:
On Jan. 14, 2015, Speaker Pelosi announced that Rep. Swalwell was joining the House Intelligence Committee.
"Speaker" Pelosi? January 14, 2015? Excuse me, James Freeman, but on January 14, 2015, Paul Ryan was Speaker. In fact, there had been Republican Speakers since 2010. Ryan would remain Speaker until 2018, during which time (2016-2018) Republicans nominally controlled both houses of Congress as well as the White House. This is where we come to the important part. Swalwell admits to being confronted by the FBI, but that couldn't possibly have happened without the FBI informing a select group of members of Congress regarding what they--the FBI and Swalwell--were up to.
We're all familiar with the Gang of Eight system, right?
The Gang of Eight is a colloquial term for a set of eight leaders within the United States Congress who are briefed on classified intelligence matters by the executive branch. Specifically, the Gang of Eight includes the leaders of each of the two parties from both the Senate and House of Representatives, and the chairs and ranking minority members of both the Senate Committee and House Committee for intelligence as set forth by 50 U.S.C. § 3093(c)(2).
Under normal conditions, the President of the United States is required by Title 50 U.S.C. § 3091(a)(1) to "ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity as required by [the] title."
When the FBI has enough information to contact a US Representative regarding possible compromise by a foreign spy, I think that qualifies as an important intelligence activity. The FBI thinks so, too, because they did, in fact, inform at least the House members of the Gang of Eight--or, at a minimum, the Speaker and the Minority leader, Ryan and Pelosi--of their concerns regarding Swalwell. We have Pelosi's word for that, as reported by Fred Fleitz:
Pelosi expressed full confidence in Swalwell and claimed there is nothing to this story because Democratic and Republican leaders were briefed on it in 2015. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy disputes this and wants to FBI to brief Congress on this case.
Do you know what? I'm gonna call BS on McCarthy. With the Republicans in control of the House since 2010 I simply refuse to believe that the FBI would be so stupid as not to brief BOTH parties about this matter--just as Pelosi says. That would have included Speaker Ryan and the Minority Leader Pelosi at a minimum, but I can't think of any reason why the HPSCI Chairman and Ranking Member would not have also been informed. It would have been a simple matter of CYA for the FBI. And why would they object to informing such a solid Establishment figure as Paul Ryan? Of course Ryan was informed. Nor can I imagine that the Chairman of HPSCI would not be told.
With that in mind, does that tell you something about the degree of inter-party collusion in Congress? Pelosi would have had to have been totally confident that she would not be called out by Ryan, because she selected Swalwell for HPSCI and supported him for a plum appointment on the committee:
U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) today was selected to serve as the senior Democrat on the Committee on Intelligence’s Subcommittee on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This newly established subcommittee is responsible for the oversight, policy, activities, and budget of the CIA.
The next question should be: Who was the Chairman of HPSCI? Notice that we're talking about a transition period here. Congressional elections would have been held in 2014. The Chairman at that time was Mike Rogers, but he didn't run for re-election. He was succeeded as Chairman by Devin Nunes. So the question for us is, Did Mike Rogers know, and did Devin Nunes know. Somebody needs to ask them, but I'm guessing that Nunes didn't know.
So, if Mike Rogers was told, that means Rogers and Ryan both were OK with Pelosi placing Swalwell on HPSCI. Again, you should have a feel for Paul Ryan, but may need a reminder about Mike Rogers--we're not talking about the admiral who headed NSA:
Mike Rogers ..., the former US Representative., was a Special Agent for the FBI in Chicago from 1989 - 1994 (I didn't know him, but recall hearing the office buzz when Rogers resigned to go into politics). More to the point, after leaving the House in 2014, having served as Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rogers joined the Trump campaign in 2016 as national security adviser. (You can locate other references to this Mike Rogers here.)
I speculated back then that Rogers may have been a spy or mole on the Trump campaign. Rogers was dismissed from the Trump Campaign/Transition within days of the 2016 election and went on to join the virulently NeverTrump organization The Alliance for Securing Democracy. To keep this brief (follow this link for much more), I'll quote myself again:
The Alliance for Securing Democracy--who's that? Mollie Hemingway is right about the Alliance's Advisory Council. It contains many of the usual Neocon and NeverTrump suspects. Including David Kramer who went to London to get the "dossier" from Christopher Steele--the same Christopher Steele who seems connected to Donnelly's Institute for Statecraft. Did he meet anyone else there? Did he and McCain have any other contacts there?
There are other interesting names on that Advisory Council--in fact, it's a regular Deep State rogues' gallery, even including John Podesta. But for me one name that really jumps out is: Mike Rogers. Yes, that would be the former GOP Congressman, former head of the Intel Committee, and former national security adviser to the Trump campaign. I devoted a blog post to him alone: The Spy In The Trump Campaign.
So my view is that this Swalwell affair is a real can of worms--for both parties. And that's why you're hearing so little about it, and why you've probably never heard the names Paul Ryan and Mike Rogers in connection with Swalwell. You won't find those names in Freeman's article and you won't find them in Fleitz' article. If I had to guess, I'd say that both parties in Congress have a lot to keep quiet about when it comes to China. No wonder so many want Trump gone. Of course Pelosi should be made to answer some hard questions, but so too should several Republicans.
Come to think of it, shouldn't someone be asking James Comey about this? Bill Priestap is another now disgraced but formerly a High Bureau Official who would know all about this. Briefing Congress was a regular part of his job. Andy McCabe? Sure, why not? When you stop and think about this a bit, there could be a number of people in Congress with reasons to support pulling the plug on John Durham as soon as might be.