A trio of House Democrats kicked off committees by Republicans took to CNN on Sunday to air grievances against Speaker Kevin McCarthy, accusing him of playing politics.
The three Democrats — Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff of California, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — cited Mr. McCarthy‘s slim majority, saying he promised ultra-conservatives he would target them in exchange for the speaker’s gavel.
Republicans have said it was in retaliation to a precedent set by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who removed GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from committees over their controversial social media posts.
“The only real explanation is he needs Marjorie Taylor Greene’s vote, he needs Paul Gosar’s vote, he wants to retaliate for their removal from their committee, and apparently he believes I was very effective in exposing his misconduct, Donald Trump’s misconduct,” Mr. Schiff, who headed the House Intelligence Committee and led the second Trump impeachment trial, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That’s what he’s trying to stop.”
Mr. Swalwell also was removed from the Intelligence Committee for unknowingly staffing a Chinese spy.
“Don’t take my word for it,” he said. “Take the FBI’s word for it. They never talk about ongoing investigations … Three different times they came out and said all I did was help [the FBI], and I was never under any suspicions of any wrongdoing.”
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Mr. Swalwell noted that former Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan, both Republicans, chose not to remove him from his committee post when the situation first came to light years ago.
“It’s Kevin McCarthy weaponizing his political abuse because he perceives me, just like Mr. Schiff and Ms. Omar, as an effective political opponent,” he said.
Ms. Omar has not yet been formally removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee for antisemitic remarks as some Republicans have objections against it, raising questions over whether Mr. McCarthy will have the votes.
“I might’ve used words at the time that I didn’t understand were trafficking in antisemitism,” she said. “These people are OK with Islamophobia, they’re OK with trafficking in their own ways in antisemitism, they are not OK with a Muslim having a voice on that committee.”
Mr. Schiff and Mr. Swalwell went on to describe Mr. McCarthy‘s move as “Bakersfield B.S.,” a reference to the California Republican’s hometown.
“This is all pretextual,” Mr. Schiff said. “I don’t accept the premise that this has anything to do with the conduct of any of the Democratic members. This is merely the weakness of Kevin McCarthy‘s speakership, that he’s so reliant on these extreme members.”
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• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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