House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Saturday announced a long-shot effort to dislodge Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House intelligence committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reappointed him over objections from Republicans, setting up the second showdown on committee assignments in a month.
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 11: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a press conference … [+]
After Pelosi reappointed Swalwell – a central antagonist for Republicans and a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump who served as an impeachment manager during the ex-president’s second Senate trial last month – McCarthy tweeted he would introduce a resolution to remove him next week.
McCarthy cited a briefing he and Pelosi received after Axios reported an alleged spy for China, Christine Fang, fundraised for him in 2014 and helped get at least one intern hired in his office, though Swalwell’s office claimed he “long ago, provided information about this person… to the FBI.”
McCarthy said Swalwell “should not be on the panel in charge of guarding our nation’s secrets,” reflecting the opinions of a wide breadth of House Republicans, including former Rep. Denver Riggleman, a rare Republican Trump critic who nonetheless called Swalwell in December a “compromised asset.”
The move, unlikely to succeed in a Democratic-controlled chamber, comes one month after McCarthy said Democrats would “regret” removing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) from her committee assignments over her past violent and conspiratorial comments.
Republicans argued at the time that the majority removing a member of the minority party from committees sets a dangerous precedent (parties usually handle the committee assignments of their own members), with McCarthy stating Republicans have a “long list” of Democrats they would remove, citing Swalwell by name.
Swalwell was a mainstay on cable news during and after the Mueller investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged associations with Russia, and he often caught the ire of Republicans with provocative characterizations of the Trump-Russia relationship, even claiming Trump “acts on Russia’s behalf.”
While Swalwell has not publicly commented on McCarthy’s latest move, he accused Republicans of trying to “distract” from coronavirus relief, cabinet confirmations and gun control relationships. He said of McCarthy, “there is no dumber man in America than this loser.”
While McCarthy’s effort is a moonshot, it signifies a Congress increasingly defined by its divisions. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) argued in a hearing on lawmakers’ ability to penalize one another that the two parties are engaged in a “cold war” which threatens “mutually assured destruction.”
I am a news reporter covering politics and the Biden transition. I have previously worked for MSNBC and Chronogram Magazine. I attended Vassar College and the London