Eric Swalwell slammed for topless pic while riding camel during Qatar trip
California Rep Eric Swalwell was heavily mocked after photos surfaced of him and another Democrat congressman posing topless while riding camels during a trip to Qatar reportedly paid for by a special interest group.
Reps Swalwell and Ruben Gallego of Arizona, along with their wives, were seen in photos posted to Instagram on a now-removed account, riding camels without masks in March. At the time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly urged people to wear face masks outside even if vaccinated against the coronavirus, Insider reported on Friday.
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The photos were reportedly posted by congressman Gallego's then-fiancee Sydney Barron Gallego and appear to have been taken during a trip funded by the US-Qatar Business Council. According to the Washington Examiner, the trade group spent more than $84,000 and involved at least three other lawmakers, per data from LegiStorm.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson poked fun at the photo in a Monday segment on Fox News.
"If you watch this show, we may have given you the impression that Eric Swalwell spends all of his time having sex with sultry Chinese spies. And for that, we apologize. He does have some extra time and he uses that time to travel all over the world on trips paid for by foreign governments," Carlson began. "Here you have Eric Swalwell sitting on his camel, literally shirtless, arms raised in triumph as his faithful servants of color smile in the background," he added. "One of his bearers as coolies was like he was on safari in Southern Rhodesia in 1905, hamming it up."
Carlson was joined by historian Mark Steyn as they slammed the California representative for riding topless on a camel with no mask as his state is apparently contemplating reinstating the mask mandate due to the Covid-19 Delta variant spikes.
"Now that picture there is the death of the republic," Steyn said. "Don't wave your constitution at me. Don't tell me about your founding fathers because no founding father at the height of a pandemic, in which you can't go to church, you can't get a haircut, you can't go to a restaurant, but our rulers can go topless with their native bearers. Even when they're entirely reasonable buffoons who've been penetrated by Chinese intelligence," he quipped.
Social media was inundated with reactions to Swalwell's topless photo. "House intelligence committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell took a mid-pandemic break from questions about his relationship with Chinese spy Fang Fang...and posed shirtless atop a camel during a junket to Qatar," New York Post reporter Steve Nelson tweeted.
"Because sometimes Democratic congressmen need to ride shirtless on camels through Qatar during a pandemic on trips funded by special interest groups. (And yes, we have the photos.)" Business Insider journalist David Levinthal added.
"Well, @RepSwalwell is shown shirtless and maskless. Oh yes, Eric, you farted on live TV!" one Twitter user commented.
"Democrats are such scumbags that Eric Swalwell banged a Chinese spy, accused Trump of colluding with foreign governments, went on a foreign interest funded trip and not only did he not wear a mask, he made the camels wear it, and they still keep him on the house Intel committee," another joked.
House intelligence committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell took a mid-pandemic break from questions about his relationship with Chinese spy Fang Fang...— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) July 9, 2021
...and posed shirtless atop a camel during a junket to Qatarhttps://t.co/PWBSAGqS9I pic.twitter.com/qftwufzLi1
Because sometimes Democratic congressmen need to ride shirtless on camels through Qatar during a pandemic on trips funded by special interest groups. (And yes, we have the photos.)— Dave Levinthal (@davelevinthal) July 9, 2021
From @leonardkl and me: https://t.co/dnTQ8RRHeP
Well, @RepSwalwell is shown shirtless and maskless.— 🥓🦊 The SLY SilverFox 2.0🦊🥓 (@1BayCityRollers) July 10, 2021
Oh yes, Eric you farted on live TV!
Democrats are such scumbags that Eric Swalwell banged a Chinese spy, accused Trump of colluding with foreign governments, went on a foreign interest funded trip and not only did he not wear a mask, he made the camels wear it, and they still keep him on the house Intel committee. https://t.co/xcFuppWnGB— Rising serpent 🇺🇸 (@rising_serpent) July 10, 2021
It's worth noting that the congressmen got approval from the House Ethics Committee for the trip, which included time for meetings and "personal time." However, private groups cannot fund entertainment activities during such excursions, under House rules. Family members, however, are allowed to join in these trips, according to the Examiner.
The US-Qatar Business Council has strongly denied funding the camel ride. "USQBC did not pay for any camel rides during the trip to Qatar. As indicated in its filings required to obtain approval from the House Committee on Ethics, USQBC only covered costs directly associated with travel and the working agenda of the trip," the trade group said in a statement given to the Washington Examiner.
Swalwell is no stranger to controversy. The 2020 presidential hopeful recently faced calls to be removed from the House Intelligence Committee after it emerged that he had once dated suspected Chinese spy Fang Fang.