Kevin McCarthy denies committee seats to Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) avenged Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) by barring two Democrats from serving on a House committee.

McCarthy announced Tuesday that he would refuse to seat Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff of California on the House Intelligence Committee, pure political revenge for the Democrats who removed Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz). .) of the committees in 2021.

in a public letter To Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.), who had appointed the pair to the intelligence committee, McCarthy said that “in order to maintain a standard worthy of the responsibilities of this committee,” he would decline to nominate the two Democrats.

Greene has become McCarthy’s main ally on the far-right flank of the Republican Party. Democrats ousted her from committees in 2021 when it emerged she had trafficked conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric online toward political opponents, especially Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), before coming to Congress. McCarthy won Greene’s support for her presidency in part by promising that she would put her back on committees if Republicans controlled the House, a promise she has kept.

McCarthy did not explain in his letter why Swalwell and Schiff should not be on the committee, but has repeatedly asserted that Swalwell would not be able to obtain a security clearance due to prior affiliation with a Chinese spy and that Schiff had lied to the American. people. Both accusations are specious.

“This is nothing political,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. “This is not similar to what the Democrats did. Those members will have other committees, but the intelligence committee is different.”

Drew Angerer via Getty Images

Blocking committee appointments is a clear act of political retribution. McCarthy first suggested that the Republicans would do so in November 2021 when the House voted to expel Gosar from committees after he posted a bizarre cartoon video showing him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.).

McCarthy can unilaterally deny seats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence because the speaker has more control over select committees than standing committees. He also has threatened to block Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from committeesbut doing so would likely require a vote in the House.

In a letter Sunday to McCarthy, Jeffries said removing Republicans from committees for their threatening behavior toward their colleagues should not be used as a precedent for removing Swalwell and Schiff. He described the appointment of “serial con man” George Santos (RN.Y.) to two committees as a double standard.

McCarthy insisted Tuesday that a secret report he had received from the FBI justified Swalwell’s removal from the intelligence committee.

“The FBI was concerned about putting a member of Congress on 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 known publicly about the accusation comes from a History of Axios 2020 which said a Chinese spy ingratiated herself with elected Democrats from 2011 to 2015, including raising money for Swalwell’s re-election, and that Swalwell immediately ceased all contact with the person after the FBI tipped him off. The story did not expose any wrongdoing on Swalwell’s part.

McCarthy offered a list of complaints against Schiff, the former chairman of the intelligence committee, including a dubious claim that he personally knew the whistleblower who led to the first impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump.

In a joint statement, Swalwell, Schiff and Omar said McCarthy had “capitulated to the right wing” of the Republican Party and struck a corrupt deal “that required political vendetta against the three of us.”

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