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Longtime staffer for Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein was reportedly a Chinese spy

A former staff member for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was reportedly suspected of spying for the Chinese government. Feinstein fired the staffer five years ago, after she was informed by the FBI about what had happened. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A new report from the San Francisco Chronicle says a longtime former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was reportedly acting as a spy for the Chinese government.

When did Feinstein learn about the FBI investigation of her driver?

Five years ago, the FBI informed Feinstein that her personal driver was being investigated on charges of espionage.

“Dianne was mortified,” an anonymous source told the Chronicle.

The driver had been employed by Feinstein for 20 years. He also acted as a gofer in the senator's office in San Francisco and as a liaison to the Asian-American community. In this role, he attended multiple Chinese Consulate functions on the senator's behalf.

According to reports, the staffer may not have even known that he had been recruited by the Chinese government. While on a visit to Asia to see family, someone connected to the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of State Security (China's intelligence agency) befriended the driver. This contact then used this connection to gather information.

“He didn’t even know what was happening,” the anonymous source told the Chronicle. “He just thought it was some friend.”

The rest of Feinstein's staff reportedly also had no idea that this staffer was being used by the Chinese government.

During some of the years that she employed this staffer, Feinstein was also chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee. Feinstein chaired the committee for six years (2009-14). She also served on the committee in a lesser role for several years before that, and remains on the committee (although not as chair) to this day.

Was the staffer charged?

Authorities said the staffer kept in contact with his so-called Chinese friend. After questioning the staffer, the FBI determined that he had not divulged any important information. The staffer was not charged with a crime.

Feinstein told Politico that no member of her California office staff had security clearance. Feinstein fired the staffer five years ago, after she was informed by the FBI about what had happened.

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