Karina Lipsman, the Republican congressional challenger for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, is calling on her opponent, entrenched Democrat Rep. Don Beyer, to step aside from work on sensitive committees – like the House’s Science, Space & Technology panel. Before Beyer is allowed access to the nation’s secrets, she wants to know why one of his key aides was allegedly rounding up other House staffers to attend Chinese embassy events.
Friday’s news that Beyer’s scheduler is alleged to have been acting on behalf of the Chinese embassy in Washington would seem more shocking if it did not fit a certain pattern so neatly.
Right now, the Democrats in Congress have a China problem.
The American people are too pre-occupied with rising prices and a worsening recession to pay it as much attention as it demands, but like the fabled water torture played out, the drip, drip, drip is getting harder not to notice.
While Beyer was quick to terminate his scheduler, Barbara Hamlett, after the House Sergeant-at-Arms informed him of an investigation, the allegation that a key aide to an influential member of Congress could be acting in China’s interest is itself jaw-dropping. But it’s not the first time something like this has come up in recent years.
California Congressman and one-time presidential candidate Eric Swalwell in late 2020 because of his past relations with a suspected Chinese spy named Christine “Fang” Fang. Swalwell, who sought to make a name for himself rooting out supposed Russian interference in U.S. politics, is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, yet leadership did not revoke his clearances after the news broke, despite demands for an investigation.
Fang Fang had been prolific in her recruitment efforts, reporting at the time showed. In addition to Swalwell, she’d allegedly had amorous relations with two Midwestern mayors and had ties to other members of Congress. In being exposed, was she was apparently a victim of her own success. She fled the U.S. in 2015.
Six months before Swalwell’s embarrassing scandal became known, FBI Director Christopher Wray outlined the counter-intelligence threat the Chinese pose in a speech at the Hudson Institute:
“We’ve now reached the point where the FBI is opening a new China-related counterintelligence case about every 10 hours,” Wray said, and then put in context: “Of the nearly 5,000 active FBI counterintelligence cases currently underway across the country, almost half are related to China.”
In August 2018, we learned that somehow a suspected Chinese spy had managed to work in Californian U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office – including during the time she chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It was the high drama surrounding the confirmation of Supreme Court Associate Justice Bret Kavanaugh (also orchestrated in part by Feinstein staff) that blew the Chinese scandal off the radar screen.
While in both the Feinstein and Swalwell cases we’re assured the FBI thoroughly investigated and determined that sensitive information was not relayed to China, the fact that two senior members of either congressional oversight committee for our own intelligence community could be made so vulnerable is astounding. Californian voters, it seems, are more forgiving of such indiscretions.
Feinstein, it should be recalled, changed her vote to support Most Favored Nation trading status for China in May 2000, breaking with the Democrat Party’s hardline on the country that was displacing tens of thousands of U.S. workers each year. At that time, her husband Richard Blum was growing his investments in China. When he died earlier this year, Blum was estimated to be worth about $1 billion.
Like Don Beyer, many congressional Democrats tout hawkish positions on China. In February, Democrats pushed the “America Competes Act” that they said would strengthen our trading position relative to China, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called it the “America Concedes Act,” and asserted it was a propaganda win for the Chinese Communist Party.
Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, drew new calls for a ban on members of Congress trading stocks when he dumped shares of a China-based semiconductor chip company just before a House vote to aid US chip manufacturers. Speaker Pelosi’s controversial trip to Taiwan in early August came immediately on the heels of that flap almost as if it were intended to divert attention.
That said, this writer – himself a one-time victim of a knife-wielding lunatic in broad daylight on the streets of our nation’s capital – deplores wanton and political violence alike, and wishes Mr. Pelosi a full recovery from his recent attack.
When it comes to family members getting prime Chinese business opportunities, First Son Hunter Biden is likely to face new scrutiny from the incoming Congress for his multi-million dollar dealings with a Chinese energy company after accompanying his father on an official trip to Beijing.
Right now Democrats probably don’t consider China to be their biggest problem. The red alert they’re heeding more is the wave about to break now over possibly both the House and the Senate on November 8th. Once that intramural dispute is settled, perhaps the guardians of the galaxy up on Capitol Hill can re-focus their efforts to truly challenge and not just accommodate America’s greatest geostrategic adversary.