Kevin McCarthy denies Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff seats on the Intelligence Committee
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has avenged Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) by barring two Democrats from serving on a House committee.
McCarthy announced Tuesday he would refuse to add Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff of California to the House Intelligence Committee — purely political payback for Democrats, Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) in 2021 removed from committees.
in one public letter Speaking to Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.), who appointed the pair to the Intelligence Committee, McCarthy said he would oppose the appointment of the two Democrats “to maintain a standard worthy of the responsibility of this committee.”
Greene has emerged as McCarthy’s key ally on the far-right flank of the Republican Party. Democrats threw her out of committees in 2021 when it was revealed she had acted online with conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric towards political opponents, particularly Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), before entering Congress. McCarthy gained Greene’s support for his speakership in part by promising to put her back on committees if Republicans control the House — a promise he has kept.
McCarthy didn’t explain in his letter why Swalwell and Schiff shouldn’t serve on the committee, but he has repeatedly claimed that Swalwell was unable to obtain security clearance due to a previous affiliation with a Chinese spy and that Schiff lied to the American People. Both allegations are flimsy.
“This is nothing political,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday. “This is not comparable to what the Democrats have done. Those members will have different committees, but the Intelligence Committee is different.”
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The deadlock on committee appointments is an obvious act of political retaliation. McCarthy first suggested Republicans do so in November 2021, when the House of Representatives voted to throw Gosar out of committees after he posted a weird cartoon video of him showing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) kills.
McCarthy can unilaterally refuse seats on the House Intelligence Standing Committee because the speaker has more control over select committees than standing committees. He has also threatened to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the committees, but that would likely require a vote in the House of Representatives.
In a Sunday letter to McCarthy, Jeffries said the removal of Republicans from committees for their threatening behavior towards colleagues should not serve as a precedent for removing Swalwell and Schiff. He called the appointment of “serial con man” George Santos (RN.Y.) to two committees as a double standard.
McCarthy insisted Tuesday that a secret briefing he received from the FBI justified Swalwell’s removal from the Intelligence Committee.
“The FBI was concerned about adding a member of Congress to the Intelligence Committee — who has the right to see things others don’t — because of his knowledge of and relationship with a Chinese spy,” McCarthy said.
What is publicly known about the allegation comes from a 2020 Axios story that said a Chinese spy insinuated herself into elected Democrats from 2011 to 2015, including by raising money for Swalwell’s re-election, and that Swalwell immediately cut all contact with the individual after being informed by the FBI. The story presented no wrongdoing by Swalwell.
McCarthy presented a list of grievances against Schiff, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, including a dubious claim that he personally knew the whistleblower who sparked former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment.
In a joint statement, Swalwell, Schiff and Omar said McCarthy had “surrendered to the right wing” of the Republican Party and struck a corrupt deal “that required political vengeance on the three of us.”