House Speaker Kevin McCarthy shut down a reporter on Tuesday who suggested that his decision to boot Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee was hypocritical.
At a press conference, PBS reporter Lisa Desjardins asked McCarthy how he can allow Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the controversial alleged serial liar, on House committees while at the same time booting Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the prestigious House Intelligence Committee.
"You 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]?" Desjardins asked. "This is a man who should not be on committees, something you have power over."
When McCarthy began to answer, Desjardins interrupted him and charged that he was not answering the question. McCarthy responded forcefully.
"Let me be very clear and respectful to you. You ask me a question. When I answer it, it's the answer to your question," he shot back. "You don't get to determine whether I answer a question or not, OK? In all respect."
The California Republican, who became House speaker less than three weeks ago, then explained the important distinction between the House Intelligence Committee and other committees.
"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, of the secrets going on in the world, other members of Congress don't know," he explained.
"What did Adam Schiff do as chairman of the Intel Committee? What Adam Schiff did was use his power as a chairman and lie to the American public, even the inspector general said it. When Devin Nunes put out a memo, he said it was false. When we had a laptop, he used it before an election to [play] politics and say it was false and it was the Russians when he knew different," McCarthy continued.
Now, more than two years later, we know that Schiff was wrong and Ratcliffe was correct.
Therefore, McCarthy explained, Schiff "does not have the right to sit" on the Intel Committee.
Regarding Swalwell, McCarthy said that he and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) received a briefing from the FBI about Swalwell's alleged connections to China because the "FBI was concerned" about placing Swalwell on the Intel Committee, and thus he, too, does not belong on the Intel Committee.
In the end, McCarthy said he will respect the voters who elected Schiff, Swalwell, and Santos — three men he accused of lying. But, he added, they will not serve on committees privy to intelligence critical to national security.
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