President Donald Trump and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein got into a sparring match over reports that a staffer who once worked for the senator in California allegedly had a connection to Chinese spying.
At a rally in Ohio on Saturday night, the President claimed that Feinstein “had a Chinese spy as her driver for 20 years.” Trump also incorrectly said that Feinstein, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is “the leader of the Russian investigation.”
Several committees that are chaired by Republicans have been involved in conducting hearings and interviews related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, including the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence committees and the House Intelligence and Government Oversight committees. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is leading the special counsel investigation into Moscow’s election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates.
Trump went after Feinstein during the rally after making his first reference to the Russia investigation. The President added, “I like Dianne Feinstein I have to tell you, but I don’t like the fact that she had a Chinese spy driving her and she didn’t know it.”
Feinstein hit back at Trump, responding to a Twitter post of his earlier on Saturday that asked whether she would investigate herself.
The California senator tweeted that the FBI informed her five years ago of concerns that “China was seeking to recruit an administrative member” of her staff in California, but she said the individual in question did not have “access to sensitive information,” and when she became aware of the situation she “made sure the employee left my office immediately.”
Taking aim at Trump, Feinstein went on to say: “Compare that to your actions: attacking the FBI and refusing the advice of your national security team. SAD!”
The allegations that a Feinstein staffer had ties to Chinese spy were first reported by Politico at the end of July.
“Chinese intelligence once recruited a staff member at a California office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the source reported back to China about local politics,” Politico reported, citing former intelligence official sources.
The San Francisco Chronicle later reported that the person worked as a driver for the senator while she was in California and that the staffer “was fired a few years back after being linked to Chinese spying in the Bay Area.”