Kevin McCarthy denies commission seats for Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff

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

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

In a public letter Speaking to Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (DN.Y.), who had named the couple to the intelligence committee, McCarthy said that “to maintain a standard worthy of the responsibilities of this committee,” he called for the nomination of the two Democrats would reject.

Greene has emerged as McCarthy’s closest ally on the far-right wing of the Republican Party. Democrats kicked her out of committees in 2021 when she was found to have acted online in conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric towards political opponents, especially Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), before running for Congress. McCarthy won Greene’s support for his speakership in part by promising to put her back on committees if Republicans controlled the House — a promise he has kept.

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McCarthy did not explain in his letter why Swalwell and Schiff should not be members of the committee, but he has repeatedly claimed that Swalwell would not be able to get a security clearance because of a previous connection with a Chinese spy and that Schiff had lied to the American. people. Both allegations are misleading.

“This is nothing political,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol earlier on Tuesday. “This is not comparable to what the Democrats did. Those members will have different committees, but the intel committee is different.”

Drew Angerer via Getty Images

McCarthy can unilaterally decline 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 Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to block commissionsbut that would probably require a vote in the House.

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

McCarthy insisted Tuesday that a secret briefing he received from the FBI justified Swalwell’s removal from the Intelligence Committee.

What is commonly known about the accusation stems from a 2020 TSTIME story that said a Chinese spy gained favor with elected Democrats between 2011 and 2015, including by raising money for Swalwell’s reelection, and that Swalwell immediately ceased all contact with the person after the FBI briefed him. The story did not reveal any wrongdoing by Swalwell.

McCarthy presented a list of grievances against Schiff, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, including a dubious claim that he personally knew the whistleblower who initiated the first impeachment of 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 made a corrupt deal “that required political revenge against the three of us.”

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