House Speaker Kevin McCarthy officially rejected the appointments of Democratic Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell to the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Mr. McCarthy made official the rejection of Mr. Swalwell and Mr. Schiff, both California Democrats, in a letter Tuesday evening to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, New York Democrat.
“In order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” Mr. McCarthy wrote.
Mr. Jeffries, New York Democrat, formally renominated the two men to the intelligence panel on Saturday, despite Mr. McCarthy’s longstanding vow to kick the two men off the committee as threats to national security.
Mr. McCarthy accused Mr. Schiff of spreading false information about the Russia-collusion probe, citing his access to classified information as an intelligence panel member as making his word authoritative.
“It is my assessment that 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,” he wrote.
Mr. Jeffries said that if Mr. McCarthy rejected the two lawmakers it would be breaking with the “longstanding House tradition of deference to the minority party Intelligence Committee recommendations.”
Mr. McCarthy wasn’t buying it,
“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your Democrat colleagues,” Mr. McCarthy wrote to Mr. Jeffries in Tuesday’s letter. “But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this essential committee.”
“Integrity matters more,” he said.
Mr. McCarthy long had promised he would deny seats on the panel, citing as precedents the Democrats’ stripping Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona of their committee assignments in the last Congress for remarks they considered hateful and threatening.
The New York Democrat said in his letter to Mr. McCarthy that it was appropriate to remove the two Republicans from their committees, because both were “unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues.”
“This action was taken by both Democrats and Republicans given the seriousness of the conduct involved, particularly in the aftermath of a violent insurrection and attack on the Capitol,” Mr. Jeffries said. “It does not serve as precedent or justification for the removal of Reps. Schiff and Swalwell, given that they have never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.”
Mr. McCarthy previously talked about Mr. Schiff‘s political partisanship on the panel, his references to the “Steele dossier” and its debunked allegations about former President Donald Trump as reasons for removal.
Mr. Swalwell had close relations with a Chinese spy, whom he later cut ties with after federal investigators informed him of the espionage link.
Mr. Jeffries is also expected soon to reappoint Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. McCarthy has promised to arrange a vote for removal from her panel assignment.
Republicans want to remove Ms. Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee because of her past antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.
However, the removal of Ms. Omar would require a vote of the full House chamber.
Mr. McCarthy was able to kick Mr. Schiff and Mr. Swalwell off the intelligence panel unilaterally because of its designation as a select committee.
But he cannot lose more than four GOP votes in the move to boot Ms. Omar.
Two Republicans, Reps. Victoria Spartz of Indiana and Nancy Mace of South Carolina, do not support removing Ms. Omar from her committee.