California Congressman Eric Swalwell estimates that he receives “multiple death threats every single day” and that his chief of staff devotes up to 10 hours each week dealing with federal authorities sorting out the severity of threats faced by Swalwell, his family and staff members.
“My kids don’t play in our front yard because we get letters to the residence that are also threats,” he told CBS News on “The Takeout” this week. “People have shown when they call and say, ‘I know where you live’ and then you get a letter at the house, it shows they probably do.”
Swalwell, a Democrat, said the threats have forced him to change his habits and his office’s approach to security.
“My chief of staff estimates she spends eight to 10 hours a week dealing with the FBI, the Capitol Police and prosecutors around the threats,” Swalwell said. “We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars from the campaign side for security.”
“Elected officials, we’re on the move,” Swalwell said. “We’re constantly in transit, but my staff, my family, they’re stationary, they’re fixed. And that’s what you worry about.”
As an example, Swalwell said his congressional staff was “harassed and terrorized” this week after a group he identified as Libs of TikTok accused him of supporting someone the group described as a pedophile in New Hampshire.
“They stormed my office,” Swalwell said. “I was voting, but they harassed and terrorized my staff.”
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger told Congress that threats against members are up 300% over the last seven years.
Swalwell says the harsh atmosphere won’t change his approach to politics.
“We’re not going to be intimidated,” Swalwell said. “We’re not going to change anything about what I say or how I speak out.”
He says he has no real relationship with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and Swalwell blames the California Republican for helping to degrade his personal security and safety.
“It’s nonexistent,” Swalwell said. “He has targeted me and (fellow California Democratic Congressman) Adam Schiff ever since the Russian investigation. Not only attempted to vilify me but smeared me and Adam Schiff in ways that have changed our lives completely with the security threats.”
The most memorable moment of Swalwell’s largely forgettable 2020 presidential campaign may have been a broadside he leveled at then-candidate Joe Biden in a Democratic debate.
He urged Mr. Biden to “pass the torch” to a younger generation, echoing language then-candidate Biden had used when he first ran for president in 1987 – when Swalwell, now 42, was six years old.
“I was completely wrong,” Swalwell says now. “He’s proved all of us wrong. He proved me wrong.”
Swalwell said Mr. Biden approached him during the next commercial break at the June 2019 debate. “He said: ‘That was a pretty good one, wise ass,'” Swalwell said. “You know, he he’s been in the business for a long time. But he has proven us wrong with his energy, his ability, (with) what he’s accomplished.”
And he said he has no doubt Mr. Biden will be the Democratic nominee in 2024.
“He has achievements to run on,” Swalwell said. “He’s got a comeback story.”
Swalwell, like many Democrats was cautious in responding to a plea deal for Hunter Biden that fell apart Wednesday when it was presented to a federal judge for approval.
“Doesn’t happen often,” said Swalwell, a former state prosecutor in California. “This is why you play the game. Right? You can talk about what it’s supposed to look like, but in court, there there’s a very formulaic prose that the judge will follow and will make sure the defendant understands each part of it. It seems like the judge was not comfortable that both sides agreed on what the terms were.”
Swalwell rejected repeated Republican assertions that Hunter Biden’s business dealings could implicate the president in crimes.
“Look, they can knock themselves out,” Swalwell said. “You can say whatever you want….about Joe Biden, but I think it’s pretty hard to say that the guy’s corrupt.”
Swalwell scoffed at the GOP jibe “Biden Crime Family.”
“They also call him sleepy Joe,” Swalwell said. “Where I come from you can be sleepy or you can be corrupt, but I don’t know anyone who does both. There’s no there, there.”
Scott MacFarlane contributed reporting.
Executive producer: Arden Farhi
Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson