Dems stripped of committee assignments bash McCarthy, defend records in joint TV appearance

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


A trio of House Democrats targeted by Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) with committee oustings made the Sunday news talk show rounds to slam the House Speaker for catering to “extremist” members of his party.

In a joint appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) also defended themselves against Republican accusations of unethical and potentially dangerous behavior.

McCarthy stripped California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of their Intelligence Committee assignments last week, citing Schiff’s abuse of power in pushing the Trump-Russia collusion hoax and Swalwell’s years-long romantic dalliance with a Chinese spy. McCarthy also vowed to kick Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the House Foreign Affairs Committee, asserting that her well-documented anti-Israel and anti-semitic remarks disqualify her from serving on the panel.

Schiff told host Dana Bash that “[t]he only real explanation” he can come up with for his ousting is that McCarthy “needs” the votes of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and that the speaker “wants to retaliate for their removal from the committee,” referring to the Democrats’ 2021 decisions to strip both representatives of their respective committee assignments. Both Greene and Gosar were reinstated to their respective former panel assignments by the House GOP steering committee earlier this month.

Schiff said McCarthy’s claim about his role in trying to take down former President Trump reveals that the Speaker “apparently … believes I was very effective in exposing his misconduct, Donald Trump’s misconduct, and that’s what they’re trying to stop.”

Republicans have accused Schiff of using his position on the Intelligence Committee to falsely assert nefarious ties between Trump and the Russian government, despite an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller that found no such coordination existed.

Swalwell referred to his removal from the intel committee as “some Bakersfield BS,” a reference to McCarthy’s hometown in California.  

“It’s Kevin McCarthy weaponizing his ability to commit this political abuse because he perceives me, just like Mr. Schiff and Ms. Omar, as an effective political opponent,” Swalwell said.

McCarthy and other Republicans have long argued that Swalwell’s relationship with a suspected Chinese spy going all the way back to as early as 2012 disqualifies him from serving on the House Intelligence Committee and have accused him of sharing sensitive U.S. intelligence information with her.

“There’s nothing there,” the California Democrat argued, adding that the FBI agents probing the matter said that “all I did was help them, and, also, I was never under any suspicion of wrongdoing.”

Omar, a Somali American and the first Muslim woman elected into Congress, has come under harsh criticism over her penchant for repeating antisemitic tropes when referring to U.S. ally Israel, which Republicans, including McCarthy, have said should automatically disqualify her from serving on the Foreign Affairs committee. Omar defended herself against the accusations during her CNN appearance, claiming that she had been unaware at the time how her words might be perceived.

“I might’ve used words at the time that I didn’t understand were trafficking in antisemitism,” Omar said on Sunday. “When that was brought to my attention, I apologized. I owned up to it.”

Bash, who is Jewish, proceeded to read from a list of antisemitic quotes attributed to Omar that were presented at the Republican conference last week, including Omar’s claim “that Israel hypnotized the world.”

“You said Israel is an apartheid regime, that politicians with pro-Israel stance — stances were ‘all about the Benjamins’…that you support the [Palestinians’ Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel], which a lot of people think is rooted in antisemitism; [and] compared the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban,” Bash began, asking Omar to respond.

“I wasn’t aware of the fact that there are tropes about Jews and money,” Omar claimed, adding what she has since learned about antisemitism has been “very enlightening” while also pointing out that she has voted “for every single [House] resolution” condemning antisemitism. “And I continue to work with my colleagues and my community to fight against antisemitism,” Omar added.

Schiff insisted that McCarthy’s actions in stripping him and his colleagues of their committee assignments shows that he is “catering to the most extreme members of [the Republican] conference.”

“And 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,” Schiff said.

McCarthy was able to use his power as Speaker to unilaterally yank Schiff and Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee because it is a select panel. However, removing Omar from the Foreign Affairs panel will require a majority vote of the House. 

McCarthy last week rejected a request from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) to allow Schiff and Swalwell to retain their committee assignments, telling Jeffries in a letter that it was his “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.”

McCarthy stressed that his objective is ensuring that the panel and its members reflect “genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people.”