“It is my understanding that you intend to break with the long-standing House tradition of deferring to the recommendations of the minority party’s intelligence committee and deny seats to Deputy Member Schiff and Representative Swalwell,” Jeffries wrote in the letter sent to The Washington Post. got hold of. “Denying seats to duly elected members of the House Democratic Caucus goes against the serious and level-headed mission of the Intelligence Committee.”
Republicans have been angling to deny seats to Democrats on key panels, in part in retaliation for votes by the Democrat-led House in the last Congress to remove Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz. ) of commissions. Some Republicans voted with Democrats to strip Greene and Gosar of their committee duties.
Greene espoused extremist beliefs and endorsed violence against prominent Democrats, while Gosar posted an animated video depicting the assassination of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) and violence against President Biden.
McCarthy has argued that Schiff and Swalwell are unfit to serve on the Intelligence Committee, pointing to Schiff’s conduct as panel chairman during President Donald Trump’s first impeachment inquiry and Swalwell’s alleged ties to a Chinese intelligence agent – an episode that lacks evidence of misconduct on Swalwell’s part.
Analysis: McCarthy’s misleading attacks on Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell
Unlike most committees, where party leaders control their appointees, the speaker has the final say in who sits on the intelligence panel.
In his letter, Jeffries argues that the issues that prompted the vote to remove Greene and Gosar are very different from the reasons for McCarthy’s possible denial of seats to Schiff and Swalwell.
Greene and Gosar were removed “after a bipartisan House vote found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues,” Jeffries wrote. “It does not serve as a precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell given that they never engaged in any violent thoughts or behaviors.”
Jeffries also accused McCarthy of a “double standard” for making Rep. George Santos (RN.Y.) – whom he called a “serial fraudster” – sitting on committees. Santos has admitted to lying about important aspects of his background and is facing multiple investigations.
Punchbowl News first reported on the letter.
Among other things, McCarthy has alleged that Schiff “lied to the American public” about whether he knew the whistleblower who launched the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into Joe Biden in exchange for a promised meeting at the White House. and delivery of US military aid.
As noted in a Washington Post fact-check this month, during the impeachment inquiry, Schiff tried to avoid disclosing the whistleblower’s name, often dismissing questions that could expose the official. Eventually, right-wing media published the name of an intelligence officer, although that person has never been officially confirmed as a whistleblower.
In an effort to deny Swalwell a seat, McCarthy has tapped into a 2020 report from Axios that a suspected Chinese intelligence agent named Christine Fang had developed extensive ties to local and state politicians, including Swalwell.
She reportedly targeted emerging politicians in the San Francisco Bay Area through campaign fundraising and networking. She first met Swalwell when he was a councilor in Dublin, California, according to Axios.
But there’s no evidence of impropriety on Swalwell’s part, a Washington Post fact-check found this month. Axios said that when the FBI alerted Swalwell and other House members of its concerns about Fang’s activities, Swalwell immediately severed ties with her.
Glenn Kessler contributed to this report.