McCarthy tussles with reporter over Intel Committee removals: ‘You have not had the briefing that I had’
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday faced off against a reporter for removing Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee while allowing controversial Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., to sit on other House committees.
Upon the news that Democrat Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, were removed from the Intelligence Committee, PBS reporter Lisa Desjardins questioned McCarthy on how he could square those actions with allowing Santos to serve on House committees after being caught in multiple lies.
“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.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., conducts a news conference in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 12, 2023.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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McCarthy pushed back: “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.”
“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 said.
The Republican leader brought up Schiff’s push of the Russia collusion scandal as a reason for not allowing him back on the House Intelligence Committee.
As chair of the Intelligence Committee, McCarthy told reporters Schiff used “his power as a chairman and lied to the American public. Even the inspector general said it. When Devin Nunes put out a memo, [Schiff] 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.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks to reporters as he departs the final meeting of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Canon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 19, 2022.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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McCarthy also noted that Schiff is still free to serve on other committees within the House of Representatives and that Santos has not been placed on the House Intelligence Committee.
“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 answered.
He responded similarly regarding Swalwell’s past scandal compromising himself with his connection to a Chinese spy, telling reporters, “You have not had the briefing that I had.”
“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 continued.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., left, confers with committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., as they listen to testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“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.
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“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,” McCarthy concluded.