Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., vowed that he and two other House Democrats do not plan to go away, despite not being reappointed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, to committees they historically served on, adding the speaker’s decision was “purely about political vengeance.”
During a press conference on Wednesday, Swalwell and Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn and Adam Schiff, D-Calif responded to McCarthy’s decision to not reappoint the three legislators to their committees.
“Even though we have said publicly, ‘these smears are bringing death threats against us,’ he continues to do it, which makes us believe that there’s an intent behind it,” Swalwell said. “But we will not be quiet. We’re not going away. I think he’ll regret giving all three of us more time on our hands. But at the end of the day, our mission now is to restore the credibility and integrity of this institution of which the speaker has so gravely, so gravely smashed and destroyed.”
In a letter on Tuesday, McCarthy shot down demands from Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries to reappoint Swalwell and Schiff, who were “eminently qualified” legislators with more than two decades of providing oversight of the nation’s Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy has expressed concerns in the past over the two legislators. Swalwell’s alleged ties to a Chinese Spy named Christine Fang, or Fang Fang, in 2014 raised questions.
McCarthy also has said Schiff has lied too many times to the American Public. Schiff was one of the Democrats’ lead spokesmen on the explosive allegations against former President Donald Trump, saying he colluded with Russia in the 2020 election.
An investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
McCarthy said on Tuesday that he could not put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, nor could he simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for being part of the Intelligence Committee.
“Integrity matters more,” he said. “The misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions – ultimately leaving our nation less safe.”
After learning of McCarthy’s decision, Schiff turned to Twitter.
“Kevin McCarthy just kicked me and @RepSwalwell off the Intelligence Committee,” he said. “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.”
A reporter on Capitol Hill asked McCarthy about his decision to not reappoint Swalwell and Schiff to the Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, and the House Speaker did not hold back.
McCarthy said Schiff used his position as chairman of the Intelligence Committee and lied to the American people about information the rest of America did not have. McCarthy also said when a whistleblower came forward, Schiff claimed he did not know the person even though his staff met with him.
“No, he does not have a right to sit on that,” McCarthy said. “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 that first.”
The speaker also went into details about Swalwell, saying the FBI never gave congressional leaders a briefing about Swalwell’s problem with a Chinese spy until he served on the Intelligence Committee.
“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,” McCarthy said. “I got that briefing, so I do not believe he should sit on that committee…and I believe there’s 200 other Democrats that can serve on that committee.”
Omar was also left out of being appointed to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, mainly because of her past antisemitic remarks.
McCarthy said in November that when he is speaker of the house, he would remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her antisemitic comments.
“We watch antisemitism grow, not just on our campuses, but we watched it grow in the halls of Congress,” he said at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s 2022 leadership meeting in Las Vegas. “I promised you last year that as speaker she will no longer be on Foreign Affairs, and I’m keeping that promise.”
In a tweet before joining Congress, Omar claimed Israel had “hypnotized the world” and after being elected she submitted a resolution to the House comparing boycotting Israel to boycotting the Nazis. Omar also came under fire in 2019 for appearing to minimize the 9-11 attacks, when speaking to a Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR) audience in March of that year. “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar told the audience that day.
“Kevin McCarthy’s purely partisan move to strip us from our committee is not only a political stunt, but also a blow to the integrity of our democratic institution and threat to our national security,” Omar said on Wednesday. “If McCarthy wants to denigrate the House and its committees, we will always stand up to these efforts.”