House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has rejected a Democratic Party request that Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California remain as members of the House Intelligence Committee.
The panel is one of the few in which the House speaker has total control over its members, according to The Washington Post.
McCarthy on Tuesday released a letter he sent to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries rejecting a return of Schiff and Swalwell to the panel.
“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your Democrat colleagues, and I acknowledge your efforts to have two Members of Congress reinstated to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,” he wrote to the New York Democrat.
“But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this essential committee. Integrity matters more,” McCarthy said.
The California Republican told Jeffries that “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 safe. Therefore, as we enter a new Congress, I am committed to returning the Intelligence Committee to one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people.”
I have rejected the appointments of Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell for the House Intelligence Committee.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) January 25, 2023
“This is not anything political. This is not similar to what the Democrats did,” McCarthy told the Post, referencing the action by the Democratic majority in 2021 to remove Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona.
As noted by The New York Times, in 2017, Schiff claimed he had “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion between former President Donald Trump and Russia, which proved false.
Meanwhile, Swalwell became entangled with a woman with whom he was later advised to cut ties because she was an agent of the Chinese government.
The suspected operative, a Chinese national named Christine Fang, enrolled as a student at Cal State East Bay in 2011.
Fang’s friends and acquaintances said she was in her late 20s or early 30s, though she looked younger and blended in well with the undergraduate population. pic.twitter.com/cDhp8s8CTa
— Bethany 貝書穎 (@BethanyAllenEbr) December 8, 2020
Both Democrats decried McCarthy’s action.
Schiff said on Twitter the move was “petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump. If he thinks this will stop me, he will soon find out just how wrong he is. I will always defend our democracy.”
Kevin McCarthy just kicked me and @RepSwalwell off the Intelligence Committee.
This is petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump.
If he thinks this will stop me, he will soon find out just how wrong he is.
I will always defend our democracy.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 25, 2023
“I think this is a terrible move on his part and once again, showing McCarthy just catering to the most extreme elements of this conference,” Schiff said, according to CNN.
Swalwell used similar language.
“It’s political vengeance, it’s too bad because that committee has always been a bipartisan committee, and he’s taking one of the most precious pieces of glassware in the congressional cabinet and smashing it, and the damage is going to be irreparable,” he said.
Swalwell brought up the Chinese spy allegations in tweeting his objections to McCarthy’s action.
“This rejection is based on a claim that the Washington Post independent-fact checker gave 4 Pinocchios,” the Democrat tweeted.
This rejection is based on a claim that the Washington Post independent-fact checker gave 4 Pinocchios. Speaker Boehner and Ryan, both Gang of 8 members, appointed me to Intel with access to the same facts McCarthy is distorting. He can keep me off Intel, but I’m not going away. https://t.co/YQZOVCSJpO
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 25, 2023
One more high-profile Democrat’s committee assignment may also be taken away.