White House defends Omar, Schiff and Swalwell as Kevin McCarthy tries to kick them off committees
The White House sided with three Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday who House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is trying to strip of their highly valuable committee assignments.
On Tuesday, McCarthy decided that Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were no longer welcome on the House Intel Committee – and because it’s a select panel and not a standing one, he’s got the final say on its membership.
He’s also threatened a House vote to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over comments she previously made about Israel.
President Biden’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about McCarthy’s letter booting Schiff and Swalwell off the intelligence committee at her regular news briefing, and said that both they and Omar bring valuable ‘expertise’ to their respective panel assignments.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about House Speaker McCarthy keeping Democrat Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the intelligence committee, and defended them along with Rep. ilhan omar
She said all three ‘bring a lot to the table when it comes to foreign policy and national security.’
‘When it comes to that committee, it should not be politicised,’ Jean-Pierre said.
‘It should be independent, and again, those congressional members bring a lot of expertise to that committee.’
Earlier on Wednesday, Schiff, Omar and Swalwell held a joint press event to discuss their Capitol drama. They claimed McCarthy was doing Donald Trump’s bidding in stripping them of their assignments.
Schiff said at the press conference, ‘The cardinal sin appears to be that I led the impeachment of his master in Mar-a-Lago, for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid from Ukraine, a nation that was even then at war. with Russia, in order to extort that country into helping Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
Swalwell complained that McCarthy is using his power as speaker to ‘go after his political opponents and pick them off the field.’ ‘In my case it’s purely political vendetta,’ Swalwell added.
Swalwell (left) and Schiff (center) were removed from the House Intelligence Committee, while Omar (right) is being threatened with a floor vote to oust her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They held a press conference on Wednesday to respond.
The Democrats said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (pictured) was doing the bidding of ‘his master in Mar-a-Lago’ as ‘revenge’ for impeaching former President Donald Trump by removing him from the House Intelligence Committee
In a heated exchange with a reporter Tuesday night, McCarthy pointed to Schiff’s role in Russiagate during the Trump years and said the California Democrat ‘lied to the American public’ about the legitimacy of Hunter Biden’s laptop while serving as Intelligence Committee chair in the run- up to the 2020 presidential election.
‘And if you want to talk about Swalwell, let’s talk about Swalwell,’ McCarthy continued. ‘Because you haven’t had the briefing that I have.’
McCarthy then brought up an FBI briefing he had with then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as Schiff, about Swalwell’s entanglements with an alleged Chinese spy named Fang Fang.
‘As he indicated, I sat in on that briefing and when Kevin McCarthy misrepresents it and does that disservice to the American people, it’s shameful,’ Schiff said. ‘This is a patently unfair smear by Mr. McCarthy,’ the California Democrat said.
Swalwell said all he did was two things: ‘I helped them over and over and I was never suspected of wrongdoing.’
Omar pointed out that she apologized for making anti-Semitic remarks early in her Congressional tenure.
‘I’ve addressed it, I’ve apologised. It’s been two and a half terms ago,’ the Minnesota Democrat said. ‘I think it is really important in all of our cases to remember it is not the accusations that McCarthy is making against us that is pushing for our removal from these committees.’
‘It’s about revenge. It’s about appeasing the former president,’ she added.
She argued that ‘all three of us have been a thorn in the back of the previous disgraced president.’
‘Republicans have been gunning for our seats and obviously know how effective we have been in upholding the Constitution, in defending our democracy and standing up to extremists,’ she said.
McCarthy was able to unilaterally remove Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee, but Omar’s fate would be in the hands of the full House.
It’s unclear if McCarthy has the votes.
Moderate Republican Reps. Victoria Spartz and Nancy Mace have said they oppose the move.
McCarthy is also short one vote due to Rep. Greg Steube is recovering from substantial injuries after falling off a ladder at his Florida home.
The new House Republican majority removed the option for members to vote by proxy.
McCarthy was questioned Tuesday night on how he could push Schiff and Swalwell from their committees, but allow serial liar and Republican Rep. George Santos to be assigned to two committees – the Committee on Small Business and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
I’m going to be very clear with you. The Intel Committee is different. You know why? Because what happens in the Intel Committee, you don’t know,’ McCarthy told PBS NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins.
Schiff reacted by saying, ‘the hypocrisy just grabs you by the throat.’
‘This is a Republican speaker who is seating a human fraud, George Santos, on committees, a serial fabricator about every part of his existence,’ Schiff said.
In a tense back-and-forth with Desjardins at a Tuesday press conference, McCarthy also pointed out that Schiff and Swalwell would be able to serve on other committees – just not those charged with the nation’s secrets.
‘But you know what, those voters elected Schiff, even though he lied, those voters elected Swalwell, even though he lied to the American public, too,’ McCarthy reasoned. ‘So you know what? I respect his voters too and they’ll serve on committees. But they will not serve on a place that has national security ramifications because integrity matters to me.
‘I will not be like Democrats and play politics with these. Where they removed Republicans from committees and all committees,’ McCarthy also said.
During the last Congress, Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar were stripped of all their committee assignments after they shared social media posts that threatened violence on Democrats including then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
They were removed from committees using a floor vote.