House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tore into a reporter Tuesday after she interrupted him during a press conference as he was speaking about his decision to reject Reps. Eric Swalwell (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (R-CA) from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The reporter, PBS Newshour’s Lisa Desjardins, compared embattled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to Swalwell and Schiff, saying, “You have said that lying to us is something that means you should be removed from the Intelligence Committee, but why is it not a factor [for Santos]?”
The question came after McCarthy had just announced he would reject House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-NY) selections of Swalwell and Schiff to the Intel Committee and after the Republican Steering Committee placed Santos on two low-profile committees whose members do not have access to classified information in the way that Intel Committee members do.
I have rejected the appointments of Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell for the House Intelligence Committee.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) January 25, 2023
As McCarthy began explaining that Santos had been elected by his district and that the district ought to get committee representation, Desjardins cut him off and said, “That’s not an answer to my question.”
“Why is lying one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans?” Desjardins asked.
McCarthy responded, “Let me be very clear and respectful to you. You asked 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, in all respect.”
.@SpeakerMcCarthy to reporter: Let me be very clear & 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 a question or not, okay? In all respect…what happens in the Intel Cmte you don't know. pic.twitter.com/WD57QB7m1v
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 25, 2023
McCarthy continued, “I’m going to be very clear with you. The Intel Committee is different. You know why? Because what happens in the Intel Committee, you don’t know. What happens in the Intel Committee, all of the secrets going on in the world, other members of Congress don’t know.”
McCarthy said rejecting the pair of California Democrats from that particular panel was a matter of “national security.”
Schiff, when he served as chair of the Intel Committee, perpetuated the Trump-Russia collusion theory, which the Justice Department later shut down as false. Schiff once said, for instance, that he had “more than circumstantial evidence” of collusion, ultimately leading all GOP members of the committee to call for his resignation as chairman.
Schiff, while serving as the lead impeachment manager in the first impeachment against former President Donald Trump, also took heat for reading out a made-up call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for dramatic effect as Democrats moved to impeach Trump.
Swalwell, for his part, was found by the FBI to have once had ties to a Chinese spy named Fang Fang.
“I believe there’s 200 other Democrats that can serve on the committee,” McCarthy said. “Those voters elected Schiff even though he lied. Those voters elected Swalwell even though he lied to the American public too. … I’ll respect his voters too and they’ll serve on committees, but they will not serve on a place that has national security because integrity matters to me.”