House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday that Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell would no longer be members of the House Intelligence Committee, rejecting Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ weekend appeal for their renewal within the prestigious panel.
The move was long overdue, as McCarthy (R-Calif.) pledged to remove Schiff (D-Calif.) and Swalwell (D-Calif.) before the 2022 midterm elections if Republicans take the House control. Earlier this month, McCarthy also signaled he would keep his pre-election promise.
Jeffries (D-NY) on Saturday called the pair of California Democrats “eminently qualified” to serve on the committee and said there was no “precedent or justification” for McCarthy to reject his bid for the seat.
“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your fellow Democrats, and I acknowledge your efforts to have two members of Congress reinstated on the House Standing Select Committee on Intelligence,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Jeffries on Tuesday.
“But I can’t put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I can’t just recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this critical committee. Integrity matters more,” he added, saying “the misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congress has severely compromised its core national security and oversight missions – ultimately leaving our nation less secure.” .
“In order to maintain a standard worthy of the responsibilities of this committee, I hereby reject the nominations of Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy denied on Tuesday that expelling Schiff and Swalwell from the committee was retaliation for Democrats who stripped committee assignments from Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) in 2021.
“It’s nothing political. It’s not similar to what the Democrats did,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to The Hill.
Schiff, the former chairman of the Intel committee, was not convinced that the decision was apolitical.
“His objection appears to be that I was the lead impeacher when Donald Trump was first impeached and that we held him responsible for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid. to Ukraine in an attempt to extort that country into helping him with his political campaign,” Schiff told reporters on Tuesday, according to The Hill.
“I think it’s just another blow to the institution of Congress, for him to behave this way, but it shows how weak he is as president that he has to give in to the strongest elements. extremes of his conference, in this case the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Paul Gosars,” he added.
In November, McCarthy accused Schiff of lying “to the American public over and over” and said Republicans “won’t allow him to sit on the Intel committee.”
McCarthy’s reasoning for removing Swalwell dates back to reports in 2020 that a suspected Chinese spy infiltrated his campaign and got close to the congressman.
“Eric Swalwell cannot get a public sector security clearance. Why would we give him a security clearance in America’s Secrets? So I won’t allow it to be on Intel,” McCarthy told PKB News in November.