Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., vowed that he and two other House Democrats do not plan to leave, despite not being reappointed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to the committees they historically served on, adding that the speaker’s decision was “purely about political revenge.”
During a press conference Wednesday, Swalwell and Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn and Adam Schiff, D-Calif responded to McCarthy’s decision not to reappoint the three lawmakers to their committees.
“Even though we have publicly said, ‘These smears bring death threats against us,’ he continues to do so, leading us to believe there is intent behind it,” Swalwell said. “But we won’t stay silent. We won’t walk away. I think he’ll regret giving the three of us more time off. But at the end of the day, our mission now is to restore credibility and integrity.” of this institution which the speaker has crushed and destroyed so badly, so badly”.
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In a letter Tuesday, McCarthy rejected demands by Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries to reappoint Swalwell and Schiff, who were “eminently qualified” lawmakers with more than two decades of oversight of the nation’s Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy has raised concerns in the past about the two lawmakers. Swalwell’s alleged links to a Chinese spy named Christine Fang, or Fang Fang, in 2014 raised questions.
McCarthy has also said that Schiff has lied to the American public too many times. Schiff was a leading spokesman for Democrats on the explosive allegations against former President Donald Trump, saying he colluded with Russia in the 2020 election.
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An investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple efforts by people affiliated with Russia to help to the Trump campaign.”
McCarthy said Tuesday that he could not put partisan loyalty above national security, nor could he simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on the Intelligence Committee.
“Integrity matters more,” he said. “The misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions, ultimately leaving our nation less secure.”
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After learning of McCarthy’s decision, Schiff took to Twitter.
“Kevin McCarthy just kicked me and @RepSwalwell out of the Intelligence Committee,” he said. “This is petty political revenge for investigating Donald Trump. If he thinks this will stop me, he’ll soon find out just how wrong he is. I will always defend our democracy.”
A reporter on Capitol Hill asked McCarthy about his decision not to reappoint Swalwell and Schiff to the Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, and the House speaker didn’t hold back.
McCarthy said Schiff used his position as chairman of the Intelligence Committee and lied to the American people about information the rest of the United States did not have. McCarthy also said that when a whistleblower came forward, Schiff claimed that she did not know the person even though his staff met with him.
“No, you have no right to sit on that,” McCarthy said. “He can serve on a committee, but he won’t serve in intelligence because he goes to the national security of the United States, and I will always put that first.”
The speaker also went into detail about Swalwell, saying the FBI never informed congressional leaders about Swalwell’s problem with a Chinese spy until he served on the Intelligence Committee.
“So, it wasn’t just us who were worried about that. The FBI was worried about putting a member of Congress on the Intel Committee, who has the right to see things that others don’t, because of his knowledge of and relationship with a spy. Chinese,” McCarthy said. “I got that briefing, so I don’t think I should be on that committee … and I think there are 200 other Democrats who can be on that committee.”
Omar was also left out of being appointed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, mainly due to her past anti-Semitic comments.
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McCarthy said in November that when he is speaker of the house, he would remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for her anti-Semitic comments.
“We see anti-Semitism grow, not just on our campuses, but we saw it grow in the halls of Congress,” he said at the 2022 Republican Jewish Coalition leadership meeting in Las Vegas. “I promised you last year that as a speaker, I will no longer be in Foreign Affairs, and I will keep that promise.”
In a tweet before joining Congress, Omar claimed that Israel had “hypnotized the world” and, after she was elected, introduced a resolution to the House comparing the boycott of Israel to the boycott of the Nazis. Omar also came under fire in 2019 for appearing to downplay the 9/11 attacks, when he spoke to a Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) hearing in March of that year. “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.” Omar told the audience that day.
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“Kevin McCarthy’s purely partisan move to divest us of our committee is not only a political stunt, but also a blow to the integrity of our democratic institution and a threat to our national security,” Omar said Wednesday. “If McCarthy wants to denigrate the House and its committees, we will always stand up to these efforts.”