New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) forcefully responded to reporters questioning his motive for removing Reps, Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee and Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Omar, Schiff, Swalwell and multiple left-leaning outlets claim that McCarthy is playing “petty politics” in moving the three out of their powerful positions. McCarthy claims the three are being removed because of gross misconduct, saying, “They will not serve on committees of national security interests because integrity is important to me.”
On Tuesday, reporters questioned McCarthy regarding why he removed Swalwell, Schiff and Omar from their committee positions but is allowing controversial freshman Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to sit on two nonsensitive committees.
Santos, who is accused of presenting false and misleading information to his constituents during his campaign, will serve on the House Small Business and House Science, Space, and Technology committees.
PBS reporter Lisa Desjardins challenged McCarthy, saying: “You said that lying to us is something that means you should be removed from the Intel Committee. But why is it not a factor [for Santos]?”
McCarthy’s response focused on Swalwell and Schiff, noting that they, like Santos, will be allowed to serve on committees that do not deal with top secret or sensitive information.
McCarthy drew a distinction between the work of most committees and the work of the House Intelligence Committee that deals with sensitive and top secret documents requiring committee members with exceptional moral integrity, which Swalwell and Schiff lack.
“Well, let me be very—” McCarthy began.
Desjardins interrupted, saying of Santos, “This is a man who should not be on committees.”
McCarthy responded firmly:
“Let me be very clear and respectful to you. You ask me a question; when I answer it, it’s the answer to your question. You don’t get to determine whether I answer your question or not, okay? With all respect, thank you. No, no. Let’s answer her question.”
“You just raised the question. I will be very clear with you. The Intel Committee is different, well, you know why? Because what happens in the Intel Committee, you don’t know. What happens in the Intel committee, other secrets are going on the world, other members of Congress don’t know.”
McCarthy went on to remind Desjardins of some of the actions that in his view, disqualify Schiff and Swalwell from serving on the Intelligence Committee. McCarthy mentioned Schiff’s involvement in the Russia collusion scandal and how he repeatedly “lied to the American public.”
McCarthy also stated that Swalwell reportedly had an intimate relationship with a Chinese spy.
McCarthy told Desjardins that Schiff used “his power as a chairman and lied to the American public. Even the inspector general said it. When Devin Nunes put out a memo, [Schiff] said it was false.”
“When we had a laptop, he used it before an election to [play] politics and say that it was false and said it was the Russians when he knew different, when he knew the Intel… He used his position as chairman, knowing he has information the rest of America does not, and lied to the American public.”
“So, no, [Schiff] does not have a right to sit on it. But I will not be like Democrats and play politics with these where they removed Republicans from committees and all committees. So, yes, he can serve on a committee, but he will not serve on Intel because it goes to the national security of America, and I will always put them first.”
Regarding Rep. Swalwell, McCarthy intimated that reporters were not aware of all of the damning evidence select members of the House were privy to, saying, “You have not had the briefing that I had.”
McCarthy said: “I had the briefing, and Nancy Pelosi had the briefing from the FBI. The FBI never came before this Congress to tell the leadership of this Congress that Eric Swalwell had a problem with the Chinese spy until he served on Intel.”
“So it wasn’t just us who were concerned about it, the FBI was concerned about putting a member of Congress on the Intel committee that has the right to see things that others don’t, because of his knowledge and relationship with a Chinese spy.”
“But you know what, those voters elected Schiff, even though he lied; those voters elected Swalwell, even though he lied to the American public, too. So, you know what? I respect his voters, too, and they’ll serve on committees, but they will not serve on a place that has national security relevance because integrity matters to me. That’s the answer to your question.”
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