'Not Anything Political': House Speaker McCarthy Boots Democrats Schiff, Swalwell From Intel Panel
© AP Photo / Patrick SemanskyFILE - In this May 28, 2019 file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speak with members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Justice Department under former President Donald Trump secretly seized data from the accounts of at least two Democratic lawmakers in 2018 as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters, according to three people familiar with the seizures.
© AP Photo / Patrick Semansky
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unilaterally blocked Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to restore credibility to the panel, the lawmaker said in a statement.
“I have rejected the appointments of Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell for the House Intelligence Committee. I am committed to returning the House Intelligence Committee to one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people,” McCarthy said on Tuesday.
McCarthy also released a letter to House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries explaining his decision. Earlier this week, Jeffries wrote a letter to McCarthy requesting he keep Schiff and Swalwell on the committee.
As speaker, McCarthy has the power to choose the leadership of select committees and vet nominees from the other party. McCarthy said in the letter that although he respects Jeffries’ loyalty to his Democratic colleagues, he must put national security ahead of partisan loyalty.
McCarthy has criticized Swalwell for alleged ties to China, claiming the lawmaker would be ineligible for a security clearance in the private sector.
“It is my assessment 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,” McCarthy said in his letter to Jeffries.
McCarthy had earlier threatened to block Schiff in response to Democrats’ past decision to reject Republican nominees while Democrats maintained control of the lower chamber, as well as criticized him for his actions as chair of the Intelligence Committee.
Nominees overlooked by the panel were Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), both blasted for sharing posts online calling for violence against their political foes. The move was further seen as retaliation against Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for preventing lawmakers who backed voiced misinformation that fueled the Capitol riot.
19 March 2022, 07:44 GMT
However, despite the appearance of retaliation, McCarthy has underscored that his decision was "not anything political."
"This is not similar to what the Democrats did,” McCarthy told reporters late Tuesday. “Those members will have other committees, but the Intel committee, the Intel committee’s responsibility is a national security."
There are numerous other Democratic members that could serve on the Intelligence Committee instead of Schiff or Swalwell, McCarthy said during an earlier conference.