Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tore into a reporter during a press conference after she interrupted him while he was trying to answer her question about removing Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from the House Intelligence Committee.
During the press conference on Tuesday, PBS Newshour’s Lisa Desjardins tried to compare embattled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to Schiff and Swalwell while asking McCarthy about the committee decisions.
“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]?” she asked.
Desjardins’ question comes after McCarthy rejected House Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-NY) appointment of Schiff and Swalwell to the Intelligence Committee, despite the fact that McCarthy had already confirmed his decision to remove the two Democrats from that committee. Meanwhile, the Republican Steering Committee has placed Santos on two low-profile committees, neither of which provides their members with access to classified information like the Intelligence Committee does.
As McCarthy attempted to answer Desjardins’ question, explaining that Santos had been elected by his district, the reporter cut him off and claimed: “You’re not answering my question.”
“Why is lying one standard for Democrats and another for Republicans?” Desjardins asked.
McCarthy responded by blasting the reporter for her rude interruption.
“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,” he said.
“I’m going to be very clear with you,” McCarthy added. “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.”
The House Speaker went on to argue that rejecting Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee was a matter of “national security.”
“I believe there are 200 other Democrats that can serve on the committee,” McCarthy stated. “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.”
.@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
The lies McCarthy was referencing refer to Schiff’s continued insistence while serving as the chair of the Intelligence Committee that former President Donald Trump had colluded with Russia, a claim that the Department of Justice later acknowledged was false. Despite knowing that he was lying, Schiff once told the American people that he had “more than circumstantial evidence” of Trump’s collusion, prompting the Republican members of the committee to call for him to resign as chairman.
GOP letter asking Schiff to resign as House Intelligence Committee chairman: pic.twitter.com/QfRbnfD1cO
— Kristina Wong 🇺🇸 (@kristina_wong) March 28, 2019
While serving as the lead impeachment manager during Trump’s first impeachment, Schiff also faced backlash for reading out a made-up call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for dramatic effect on the House floor.
Meanwhile, Swalwell is being removed from the committee in part for his previous intimate relationship with a Chinese spy named Fang Fang.
"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."
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 25, 2023