WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday unilaterally ousted Rep. Adam B. Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee in his first partisan retaliation since winning a majority. In a major action, he fulfilled his long-standing threat to expel California Democrats.
The move is expected in 2021 when the Democrats in the then-majority voted two Republicans, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Rep. It was the much-anticipated payback after voting to oust him from the committee. their political enemies. Also, payback for then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s determination of Republicans who backed former President Donald J. Trump in spreading the election lies that fueled the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. There was also. Commission to investigate the riot.
McCarthy, who took control, tried to punish Schiff and Swalwell, two Republican favorites who played key roles in Trump’s two impeachments, but his decisions were retaliation. I denied it. Instead, he argued that both men behaved unbefittingly of the commission tasked with overseeing the country’s intelligence services.
so a letter outlining his decision McCarthy accused House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of what he described as the “misuse” of the Intelligence Committee over the past four years, which he called “a major national security and surveillance effort.” It seriously undermined its mission and eventually left our country.” Security is low. He said the dismissal of Schiff and Swalwell was necessary “to maintain the standards of accountability for this Commission.”
McCarthy said Schiff “blatantly lied to the American people” when he chaired the Intelligence Committee during the Trump presidency. In September 2019, Schiff accused the Republican Party of dramatically paraphrasing the content of a phone call in which Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son. severely criticized by staff. His committee had no contact with whistleblowers who raised concerns about their conversations.
The 118th Congress is underway, with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats holding the Senate.
In March 2019, Republicans on the committee resigned from Schiff after he said he saw “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion between Trump and Russians in 2017. requested to do so. That claim was questioned. Attorney General William P. Barr wrote in a letter addressed to certain members of Congress, according to the findings of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating the matter. Republicans accused Schiff of jeopardizing the panel’s integrity by promoting false information.
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday night, Schiff countered that McCarthy was “trying to remove me from the Intel committee for blaming Mar-a-Lago’s superiors.”
“For him to act like this is another body blow to the House of Representatives, but it shows how weak he is as a speaker,” he added.
Republicans cited Swalwell, who served as manager in Trump’s second impeachment trial, citing a report by Axios that said Swalwell was targeted by alleged Chinese spies as part of an influence campaign in 2014. and accuse. in the intel panel. Around 2015, federal investigators alerted Swalwell to his concerns, according to reports, and he “cut all ties.”
“This is all political retaliation,” Swalwell said of McCarthy’s actions.
The Intelligence Commission is a “choice” committee, so who can serve as chairman, just as Pelosi was able to block a Republican appointed by McCarthy from the elective committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks? have the authority to direct However, it is not expected that Mr. Schiff and Mr. Swalwell will lose their other commission duties.
Removal of members from other committees requires a vote in the House of Representatives. Democrats voted to remove Mr. Green from the Education Budget Committee in February 2021. Even before Mr. Green was elected, after his media posts surfaced on social media supporting the execution of Democrats and spreading bigoted conspiracy theories. After Gosar posted an animated video depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the New York State Democratic Party, they held another vote months later to oust Gosar from the committee. .
In both cases, some Republicans joined the Democrats and voted to remove their colleagues from Congressional committees.
Earlier this month, Mr. McCarthy reinstated Mr. Green and Mr. Gossar to the committee and promoted Mr. Green to two high-profile committees, oversight and homeland security. Mr. Gosar also won a seat in Oversight.
McCarthy also threatened to remove Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar from a congressional committee for his criticism of Israel, which Republicans and some Democrats have accused him of being anti-Semitic. . Omar apologized in 2019 for saying his support for Israel in Washington was “all about Benjamin’s baby.” She was criticized again in 2021 when she made remarks that appeared to compare human rights violations by Israel to acts by Hamas and the Taliban, and she later said she never meant to equate them.
It was not clear whether McCarthy, who holds a narrow majority, won the vote to oust Omar. At least two Republicans have publicly expressed concerns about doing so.
A Minnesota Democrat told reporters Tuesday night at the Capitol that some Republicans had told her privately that they believed such a move was “unsolicited.” .
“They are trying to do whatever they can at their meetings to make sure there is no vote to remove me from the Foreign Affairs Committee,” she added.