House Speaker Kevin McCarthy fell out with a reporter Tuesday night when he faced questions about his decision to oust two Democrats from the House Intelligence committee and allow embattled Rep. George Santos, RN.Y. , assumed the tasks of the committee.
During a news conference, McCarthy defended his decision to remove Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., from the intelligence panel, telling reporters that Swalwell had been compromised by a Chinese spy. and should not receive intelligence briefings, whereas Schiff, according to McCarthy, had abused his authority by repeatedly lying to the American people.
However, a reporter pressed McCarthy on his decision to let Santos have committee assignments after the New York Republican was caught in various lies about his background, including fabricating his job and education. The reporter asked why Santos’ many lies “were not a factor.”
“He was elected by his district,” McCarthy began, but was interrupted.
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“That’s not an answer to my question,” the reporter complained, prompting a rebuke from McCarthy.
“Let me be very clear and respectful to you. You asked me a question. When I answer it, it’s the answer to your question. You can’t tell if I answer your question or not, okay? With all due respect,” McCarthy chided.
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Continuing, McCarthy told reporters that the intelligence committee is “different” from other House committees because it deals with classified material that is not available to the public.
Repeating arguments he’s made before, McCarthy said Schiff doesn’t deserve to sit on the intelligence panel because he lied about calling Hunter Biden’s laptop Russian disinformation when he had intelligence reports saying otherwise. As for Swalwell, McCarthy told reporters, “You haven’t had the briefing that I had, the briefing that Nancy Pelosi had in the FBI briefing room.”
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“The FBI never came before this Congress to tell leadership that Eric Swalwell had a problem with a Chinese spy until he served in intelligence. So it wasn’t just us who were concerned…the FBI was concerned about putting a member of Congress on the Intel committee, who is entitled to see things that others don’t, because of his knowledge of and relationship with the Chinese spy,” McCarthy said.
The speaker emphasized that Schiff and Swalwell can sit on other House committees, but said “there are about 200 other Democrats who can serve” on the Intelligence committee.
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“This has nothing to do with Santos,” he continued. “Santos is not on the Intel committee. But you know what? Those voters chose Schiff, even though he lied. Those voters chose Swalwell, even though he also lied to the American public. So you know what? I respect his voters, too , and they will serve on committees, but they will not serve in a place that has national security [relevance]because integrity matters to me.”