McCarthy rejects House Intelligence Committee Democrats Schiff and Swalwell

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy rejected Tuesday night’s renominations of Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both D-Calif.

The committee has special rules that allow the speaker to allocate its members in consultation with the minority leader.

While the minority party’s recommendations have typically passed, McCarthy has the power to reject members without relying on a full-floor vote of the chamber.

In a letter McCarthy, who was sent to House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, cast his decision as one of “integrity,” suggesting that Schiff and Swalwell would weaken the committee they had served on until January.

“I cannot put partisan loyalty above national security, and I cannot simply accept years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this essential committee. Integrity is more important,” McCarthy wrote.

The speaker argued that “misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congress seriously undermined its primary national security and oversight missions – ultimately making our country less safe.”

In promising to keep Swalwell and Schiff off the House committees in this Congress, McCarthy has cited their past behavior: In Swalwell’s case, because of his reported encounters with a suspected Chinese spy, although Swalwell was not charged with any offense; and for Schiff, because of what McCarthy has said, his comments were related to a contentious dossier on Donald Trump and Russia.

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Jeffries said in a letter to McCarthy last weekend that both Democrats were “preeminently qualified” to continue serving.

U.S. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a news conference in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building, January 12, 2023, in Washington.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Moments before McCarthy’s decision was announced Tuesday, Schiff told reporters that McCarthy was “trying to dictate to the Democrats who gets to sit and who can lead the Democrats on the intelligence committee.”

“It goes down to the weakness of his speakership that he has to rely on these fraudsters and these QAnon conspiracy theorists,” Schiff said when asked if it was hypocritical to remove him while driving Republicans like Georgia firefighter Marjorie Taylor Greene to the House elevated. Oversight Committee and giving a number of low-level committee assignments to New York’s embattled Representative George Santos.

On Twitter, Swalwell pushed back McCarthy’s criticism of him, calling it false, and wrote: “He can keep me from Intel, but I’m not leaving.”

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Schiff reiterated that, tweet“This is a small political retaliation for investigating Donald Trump. If he thinks this will stop me, he’ll soon find out how wrong he is.’

Earlier in the evening, McCarthy and Jeffries met outside the House floor after McCarthy renewed his pledge to reject Schiff and Swalwell’s nominations.

“I believe there are 200 other Democrats who could serve on that committee,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.

Over the weekend, Jeffries formally selected Schiff and Swalwell to serve on the intelligence committee, despite McCarthy’s promise to keep them off the panel.

“It is my understanding that you intend to break with the long-standing House tradition of deferring to the recommendations of the minority party’s intelligence committee and deny seats to Deputy Member Schiff and Representative Swalwell,” Jeffries wrote to the speaker at the time.

Jeffries wrote that “to deny seats to duly elected members of the House Democratic Caucus goes against the serious and level-headed mission of the Intelligence Committee.”

Citing Santos’ commission assignment, Jeffries wrote, despite admitting to fabricating or embellishing parts of his background, “The apparent double standard threatens to undermine the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that is so much needed.”

PHOTO: Rep.  Eric Swalwell (D-CA) speaks at a news conference regarding the introduction of the Protection from Abusive Passengers Act at the U.S. Capitol Building, April 6, 2022, in Washington.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) speaks at a news conference regarding the introduction of the Protection from Abusive Passengers Act at the U.S. Capitol Building, April 6, 2022, in Washington.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republican leaders have pointed out how the House Democratic majority in the last Congress defeated Greene and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.

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In both cases, some Republicans voted with Democrats to remove Greene’s and Gosar’s seats, Jeffries noted in his letter to McCarthy.

“What I do with the Intel committee [is] return it to the jurisdiction it is supposed to do. Forward-looking to keep this country safe, keep politics out of it,” McCarthy told reporters at a news conference earlier this month.

“So yes, I’m doing exactly what we need to do,” he said.

PHOTO: Rep.  Adam Schiff, D-Calif., walks down the steps of the house, Jan. 12, 2023, in Washington.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., walks down the steps of the house, Jan. 12, 2023, in Washington.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Separately, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., will be appointed by her party to the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week, according to Democratic sources.

McCarthy has also pledged to keep Omar off that committee, due to some of the controversial statements she made, which could trigger a vote in the House this week to remove her commission.

However, two members of McCarthy’s conference — delegates Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Victoria Spartz of Indiana — have said they will not support him removing Democrats from committees.

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