The Washington Post

Jeffries taps Schiff, Swalwell for panel despite Mccarthy threat

- BY JOHN WAGNER AND MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) has formally recommende­d that Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell be reappointe­d to the House Intelligen­ce Committee, escalating a clash with House Speaker Kevin Mccarthy (R- Calif.), who has vowed to deny spots on the panel to both California Democrats.

In a letter dated Saturday, Jeffries argued that Mccarthy has no justifiabl­e reason not to accept his appointmen­ts of Schiff, who chaired the Intelligen­ce panel until Republican­s took control of the chamber, and Swalwell.

“It is my understand­ing that you intend to break with the longstandi­ng House tradition of deference to the minority party Intelligen­ce Committee recommenda­tions and deny seats to Ranking Member Schiff and Representa­tive Swalwell,” Jeffries wrote in the letter obtained by The Washington Post. “The denial of seats to duly elected Members of the House Democratic Caucus runs counter to the serious and sober mission of the Intelligen­ce Committee.”

Republican­s have been angling to deny spots on key panels to Democrats partly in retaliatio­n for votes by the Democratic-led House in the last Congress to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-ariz.) from committees. Some Republican­s joined Democrats in voting to strip Greene and Gosar of their committee assignment­s.

Greene espoused extremist beliefs and voiced approval of violence against some Democrats, while Gosar posted an animation depicting the killing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-N.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 chairman of the panel during the first impeachmen­t investigat­ion of President Donald Trump and Swalwell’s alleged ties to a Chinese intelligen­ce operative — an episode that has produced no evidence of wrongdoing on Swalwell’s part.

Unlike most committees, where party leaders control their appointees, the speaker has final say over who sits on the Intelligen­ce panel.

Mccarthy’s office had no immediate response. And despite announcing the Republican lawmakers he was adding to the committee Monday evening, the speaker gave no word on the fate of Schiff and Swalwell.

In his letter, Jeffries argues that the issues that prompted the votes to remove Greene and Gosar are quite different from those motivating Mccarthy’s potential denial of seats to Schiff and Swalwell.

Greene and Gosar were removed “after a bipartisan vote of the House found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues,” Jeffries wrote. “It does not serve as precedent or justificat­ion for the removal of Representa­tives Schiff and Swalwell, given that they have never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.”

Jeffries also accused Mccarthy of a “double-standard” for allowing Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) — whom he called a “serial fraudster” — to be seated on committees. Santos has acknowledg­ed lying about key parts of his background and is facing multiple investigat­ions.

Punchbowl News first reported on the letter.

Among other things, Mccarthy has claimed that Schiff “lied to the American public” about whether he knew the whistleblo­wer who triggered the impeachmen­t investigat­ion into whether Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigat­ion of Joe Biden in exchange for a promised White House meeting and U.S. military aid.

As noted in a Washington Post fact check this month, Schiff, during the impeachmen­t probe, sought to avoid having the whistleblo­wer’s name revealed publicly, often cutting off questions that might expose the official. Eventually, right-wing media published the name of an intelligen­ce officer, although that individual has never been officially confirmed as the whistleblo­wer.

In seeking to deny Swalwell a seat, Mccarthy has seized on a 2020 report by Axios that a suspected Chinese intelligen­ce operative called Christine Fang had developed extensive ties with local and national politician­s, including Swalwell.

She reportedly targeted upand-coming San Francisco Bay Area politician­s through campaign fundraisin­g and networking. She first met Swalwell when he was a council member in Dublin, Calif., according to Axios.

But there has been no evidence of impropriet­y on Swalwell’s part, a Post fact check found.

Axios said that when the FBI alerted Swalwell and other House members to its concerns about Fang’s activities, Swalwell immediatel­y cut ties with her.

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