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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) cut a reporter down to size Tuesday when questioned about his decision to remove Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee.
PBS reporter Lisa Desjardins asked McCarthy why he removed the California Democrats from the intel committee while still allowing freshman GOP Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) on a committee despite his lying about his biography.
“You said that lying to us is something that means you should be removed from the Intel Committee. But why is it not a factor [for Santos]?” Desjardins asked.
“Well, let me be very—” McCarthy began.
“This is a man who should not be on committees,” she insisted.
Holy shit. Kevin McCarthy just absolutely destroyed a reporter who questioned his decision to remove Schiff and Swalwell from the intel committee.— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 25, 2023
McCarthy shut her down before explaining the national security concerns he had with Schiff and Swalwell.
“Let me be very clear and respectful to you. You ask me a question, when I answer it, it’s the answer to your question. You don’t get to determine whether I answer your question or not, okay? With all respect, thank you. No, no. Let’s answer her question,” he began.
“You just raised the question. I will be very clear with you. The Intel Committee is different, well, you know why? Because what happens in the Intel Committee, you don’t know. What happens in the Intel committee, other secrets are going on in the world, other members of Congress don’t know,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy went on to explain how Schiff used “his power as a chairman and lied to the American public” about the Russia collusion hoax and the Hunter Biden laptop.
“Even the inspector general said it. When Devin Nunes put out a memo, [Schiff] said it was false,” he pointed out. “When we had a laptop, he used it before an election to [play] politics and say that it was false and said it was the Russians when he knew different, when he knew the Intel… He used his position as chairman, knowing he has information the rest of America does not, and lied to the American public.”
“So, no, [Schiff] does not have a right to sit on it. But I will not be like Democrats and play politics with these where they removed Republicans from committees and all committees. So, yes, he can serve on a committee, but he will not serve on Intel because it goes to the national security of America and I will always put them first,” McCarthy said.
As for Swalwell, McCarthy said, even the FBI had concerns about him due to his sexual relationship with a Chinese spy.
“I had the briefing and Nancy Pelosi had the briefing from the FBI. The FBI never came before this Congress to tell the leadership of this Congress that Eric Swalwell had a problem with the Chinese spy until he served on Intel,” McCarthy explained.
“So it wasn’t just us who were concerned about it, the FBI was concerned about putting a member of Congress on the Intel committee that has the rights to see things that others don’t, because of his knowledge and relationship with a Chinese spy,” he said.
McCarthy noted that Schiff and Swalwell will still be able to serve on other committees out of respect for the constituents who voted for them.
“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 said. “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 relevance because integrity matters to me. That’s the answer to your question.”
Schiff and Swalwell had blasted McCarthy on Twitter on Tuesday in response to their removal from the intel committees, with Schiff calling it “political payback.”
Kevin McCarthy just kicked me and @RepSwalwell off the Intelligence Committee.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 25, 2023
This is petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump.
If he thinks this will stop me, he will soon find out just how wrong he is.
I will always defend our democracy.
This rejection is based on a claim that the Washington Post independent-fact checker gave 4 Pinocchios. Speaker Boehner and Ryan, both Gang of 8 members, appointed me to Intel with access to the same facts McCarthy is distorting. He can keep me off Intel, but I’m not going away. https://t.co/YQZOVCSJpO— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 25, 2023
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