Dem staffer fired for covertly working on behalf of Chinese embassy, says counterintelligence probe

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, a top Democrat who chairs the Joint Economic Committee, has fired a staffer after discovering that she’d been covertly working on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

According to National Review, which broke the story Friday, staffer Barbara Hamlett had been requesting meetings with other congressional offices on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“A source familiar with the situation said that the House sergeant at arms (SAA) notified Beyer’s office on Tuesday that Hamlett had requested meetings with different congressional offices on behalf of people at the Chinese embassy, after staffers in other offices reported being contacted by her,” National Review reported.

“The SAA’s office was apparently aware of two requested meetings ‘in the context of meals,’ including at Charlie Palmer Steak, a popular restaurant near the Capitol,” the outlet added, citing unnamed sources.

When the SAA first contacted Beyer about Hamlett’s behavior, they reportedly requested that he abstain from taking immediate action so they could contact federal counterintelligence authorities.

“Then, later on Wednesday … the office told Beyer’s team that that consultation was complete. At that point, Beyer’s office investigated Hamlett’s behavior, finding that she indeed attempted to facilitate meetings between Chinese embassy staff and congressional staff in the offices of at least two Republican congressmen, which had reported the matter to the SAA,” according to National Review.

Speaking with National Review, one unnamed congressional aide said that when the Chinese Embassy tried scheduling a meeting about one of his boss’s bills earlier this year, he ignored them.

Then all of a sudden, Hamlett showed up at the office one day.

“So she comes to my office and asks that we step out into the hallway, and she says she is friends with the embassy and that they have been trying to get in contact with me,” the unnamed aide recalled.

He added that he agreed to have coffee with the embassy staff.

“But when the aide showed up for the meeting in June, Hamlett didn’t participate in the discussion. In fact, she sat at a different table with a female embassy staff member, NR was told. The aide then had a one-on-one discussion with a male embassy staffer, who was ‘talking about one of my boss’s bills. They do not like it,'” according to National Review.

The Barbara Hamlett seen in the old tweet below appears to be the same one who was fired by Beyer:

In recent weeks, Hamlett reportedly also tried to schedule a meeting between another unnamed aide — this one for a congressional Republican — and an unnamed Chinese diplomat after this aide also ignored the embassy’s emails.

However, this time she contacted the aide by email herself.

“I have worked on The Hill for nearly 34 yrs. and worked 5 of those years as Deputy Scheduler to the late Senator Arlen Specter. I would like to introduce you to some friends of mine that work at the Chinese Embassy who would like to meet you and have a chat,” she reportedly wrote.

When the aide ignored her email as well, Hamlett showed up at his office and tried speaking with him in person.

Despite her bad behavior, Hamlett did tell the truth about her work experience.

“Hamlett’s time working in congressional offices dates back to the 1970s, according to congressional data. She had worked as a scheduler in Beyer’s office,” according to Fox News.

“During her time on Capitol Hill, Hamlett has worked for several members of Congress, including late Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., former Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, and former Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y,” Fox News reported Friday.

As for Beyer, who’s known for his hawkish stance on China, his deputy chief of staff, Aaron Fritschner, reiterated to National Review that he’d been “totally unaware” of Hamlett’s activities and was “deeply upset” when he found out.

Fritschner added that Beyer intends to remain hawkish toward China.

“While Congressman Beyer had no inkling of this staffer’s actions and acted promptly upon learning of them, he understands that his constituents may be shocked to learn of this, just as he was. He pledges to them that he will remain a fierce critic of China’s record, continue to oppose the CCP’s totalitarian repression of its citizens, and hold himself and his staff to the highest professional and ethical standards,” Fritschner said.

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