WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaker Kevin McCarthy reiterated Tuesday that he will block Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California from serving on the House committee that oversees national intelligence, saying the decision was not based on political payoff but because “integrity important, and that’s where they failed.”
In the previous Congress, Democrats ousted Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from their committee assignments over inflammatory comments they said incited potential violence against colleagues.
Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, in a letter sent to McCarthy over the weekend, requested that Schiff and Swalwell be reappointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a prestigious panel with access to sensitive, classified information. There is “no precedent or justification” for refusing them, Jeffries said.
Unlike most committees, appointments to the Intelligence Committee are the speaker’s prerogative, with input from the minority leader.
McCarthy said he would file his response later Tuesday, but “to be very clear, this is not like what the Democrats have been doing. Those members will have other committees, but Intel’s committee is different. The responsibility of the Intel Committee is America’s national security.”
“Hakeem Jeffries has 200 other people who can serve on that board,” he added.
McCarthy was critical of Schiff’s actions as chairman of the panel during the first impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, claiming he used his position to “lie to the American public over and over again.” He also claimed that Swalwell could not get a security clearance in the private sector, so “we’re not going to give him America’s secrets.”
McCarthy tried to remove Swalwell from the intelligence committee in March 2021 based on his contact with a suspected Chinese spy. His resolution against Swalwell, which was defeated in the Democratic-led House, cited information that the suspected spy, Christine Fang, came into contact with Swalwell’s campaign while he was first running for Congress in 2012 and participated in fundraising for his 2014 campaign. .
Federal investigators alerted Swalwell to their concerns and notified Congress about Fang in 2015, when Swalwell said he cut off contact with her.
Schiff told colleagues in 2021 that Republican leaders in 2015, including then-House Speaker John Boehner and then-Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican, were aware of the situation with Swalwell and “did not express opposition to his continued service” on the House Committee. intelligence affairs.
McCarthy insisted that he was putting national security ahead of party politics.
“We’re going to restore the Intel committee to what it was meant to be.” We will no longer miss what happened in Afghanistan. We will no longer miss what is happening in China, Russia, Iran and others. That’s what this country believes should happen,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also vowed to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the Foreign Affairs Committee. In a joint statement, the three Democrats targeted for removal from the committee said it was “disappointing but not surprising that Kevin McCarthy capitulated to the right wing of his caucus, undermining the integrity of Congress and harming our national security in the process.”
They called their removal part of a bargain McCarthy struck with GOP hardliners to become speaker “that exacted a political vendetta against the three of us.”