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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

OPINION:

Earlier this month, before Congress went on Christmas break, the capital was abuzz about California Rep. Eric Swalwell’s relationship with a representative of a foreign power whose interests don’t exactly coincide these days with the United States.

The normally chatty, media-friendly congressman who was one of President Donald J. Trump’s principal accusers hasn’t had much to say about his relationship with Fang Fang (also known as Christine) who the FBI says was a spy for the Chinese government who cultivated relationships — several of which were intimate — with rising Democratic politicians across the United States.


She vanished, apparently back behind the Bamboo Curtain about five years ago. Mr. Swalwell’s still around though — and still a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the place where the early part of the plot to impeach Mr. Trump was carried out. The Republicans have objected to this, and rightly so, but their complaints have thus far fallen on deaf ears.

During the Trump years, the Sino-American relationship has been strained, not just because of the Wuhan Flu but because of unfair trade policies and because of efforts by the Chinese military to project its power further out into the Pacific. These actions and others are problems for the United States, and Washington must proceed with all deliberate speed to develop strategies to combat them.

No one should have to be reminded that the Intelligence Committee will be one place where members of Congress will be briefed on those strategies. In detail. So we agree with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, that Mr. Swalwell’s previous relationship with Ms. Fang, whatever it was, renders him “a national security threat” who should not be allowed to retain his slot on the committee.

Mr. Swalwell will not do the honorable thing and step down, so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, should remove him. So far, she won’t. Mr. McCarthy would be well within his rights to do whatever is necessary to bring the proceedings of the House to a halt until she does so.

There may be more important pieces of the people’s business for the House to consider, but Mr. Swalwell’s presence on the Intelligence Committee cannot be tolerated. Members should be forced to vote every day the House is in session on whether Mr. Swalwell should remain on the committee. And if Republicans must object to every unanimous consent request, require all bills and amendments to be read out loud on the House floor in their entirety before debate can begin, so be it. Some things are too important to let go without a fight.


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