House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sparred with a reporter after being pressed about his decisions surrounding the House Intelligence Committee.
PBS reporter Lisa Desjardins asked McCarthy about his decision to remove Democratic California Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the committee while keeping George Santos (R-NY) on.
“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?” Desjardins said appearing to refer to Santos’ previous lies about his background.
She suggested Santos is “a man who should not be on committees.”
McCarthy replied, “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, OK? With all respect, thank you. No, no. Let’s answer her question.”
He continued as reporters attempted to interrupt, “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 the world, other members of Congress don’t know.”
McCarthy accused Schiff of using his power and “lied to the American public.”
He explained, “Even the inspector general said it. When Devin Nunes put out a memo, he said it was false. 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.”
The House speaker went on to argue Schiff “does not have a right to sit” on the committee.
McCarthy added, “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.”
Turning his attention to Swalwell, McCarthy told reporters they “have not had the briefing that I had.”
Watch McCarthy’s comments below:
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
According to McCarthy, he “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.”
Pointing out it was not just Republicans who were concerned about the matter, he continued, “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.”
Concluding his rant, McCarthy said, “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. 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.”
The decision to block the Democrats from serving on the committee was made just days after House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) recommended their reappointment.
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