House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday that Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell will no longer be members of the House Intelligence Committee, rejecting Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ weekend appeal for their reappointment to the prestigious panel.
The move had been long-anticipated, as McCarthy (R-Calif.) pledged to remove Schiff (D-Calif.) and Swalwell (D-Calif.) prior to the 2022 midterm elections if Republicans took control of the House. Earlier this month, McCarthy also signaled that he would make good on the pre-election promise.
Jeffries (D-NY) on Saturday called the pair of California Democrats “eminently qualified” to serve on the committee and claimed there was no “precedent or justification” for McCarthy to reject his request to seat them.
“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,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Jeffries on Tuesday.
“But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of the national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership to this essential committee. Integrity matters more,” he added, arguing 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.”
“In order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” McCarthy declared.
McCarthy denied on Tuesday that kicking Schiff and Swalwell off the committee was retaliation for Democrats stripping committee assignments from Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) in 2021.
“This is not anything political. This is not similar to what the Democrats did,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol Building, according to the Hill.
Schiff, the former chairman of the Intel Committee, was not convinced that the decision was apolitical.
“His objection seems to be that I was the lead impeachment manager in Donald Trump’s first impeachment and that we held him accountable for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid from Ukraine in order to try to extort that country into helping his political campaign,” Schiff told reporters Tuesday, according to the Hill.
“I think it’s just another body blow to the institution of Congress, that he’s behaving this way, but it shows just how weak he is as a Speaker that he has to give in to the most extreme elements 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 time and again” and said Republicans “will not allow him to be on the Intel Committee.”
McCarthy’s reasoning for removing Swalwell dates back to reports that emerged in 2020 that a suspected Chinese spy infiltrated his campaign and got close to the congressman.
“Eric Swalwell cannot get a security clearance in the public sector. Why would we ever give him a security clearance in the secrets to America? So, I will not allow him to be on Intel,” McCarthy told Fox News in November.