Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) withdrew Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) from the House Homeland Security Intelligence Committee last week, citing suspicions that his prior contact with a suspected Chinese agent barred him from sitting on the panel. McCarthy also removed Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) from the Intelligence Committee, following years of charges from Republicans that he misappropriated intelligence for partisan purposes.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who was previously removed from her committee assignments by the prior Democratic speaker, is a new addition to the committee.
In interviews, Swalwell and Schiff express their unhappiness and reject the validity of the claims against them.
During a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” anchor Dana Bash asked Swalwell, “Did you put yourself in a vulnerable position in any way, so that this alleged Chinese spy could have benefited or even learned American secrets?” Swalwell reacted angrily at his expulsion from the committee, clearly believing that spending time with a suspected spy does not justify exclusion from the highly classified Intelligence Committee.
Swalwell responded with “Absolutely not” “However, Dana, do not accept my word for it. Accept the FBI’s word as gospel. They never discuss active investigations. And former Chairman [Adam] Schiff, a member of the Gang of Eight, is aware of this. They came out and uttered the same two things three times. I did nothing except assist them, and I was never suspected of wrongdoing.
“This is some Bakersfield B.S. 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 added.
WATCH Swalwell’s comments:
Democrat Eric Swalwell says he did not compromise national security through his past relationship with a Chinese spy. pic.twitter.com/CvTVzsdtbi
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) January 29, 2023
Conservative Brief supplies a partial transcript:
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: On that, Congressman, you were also removed by Republicans from the Intelligence Committee. What the speaker said about you is that, beginning in 2012, a suspected Chinese spy developed ties to you and to your office, even put an intern there, raised campaign funds for you.
You state quite explicitly that you severed relations with this individual in 2015, when you learned of their infidelity. You provided assistance to the FBI. However, the essential question is as follows. Have you ever placed yourself in a situation where this accused Chinese spy might have profited or maybe learnt American secrets?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Absolutely not.
Don’t take my word for it, Dana. Accept the FBI’s word as gospel. They never discuss active investigations. And former Chairman Schiff, as a member of the Gang of Eight, is aware of this. They came out and uttered the same two things three times. I did nothing except assist them, and I was never suspected of wrongdoing.
In addition, though, Speaker Boehner was briefed on this probe. He could have dismissed me, just like McCarthy did with me. He didn’t. As chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes never mentioned this in public. Upon reappointment, Paul Ryan would have access to the same inquiry.
Donald Trump, who demonized me at every rally and had more access to confidential material than anyone who has ever lived, would have used that against me if he could have. There is no content there.
I did what every American ought to have done. This is Bakersfield nonsense. Kevin McCarthy is weaponizing his power to conduct this political abuse because, like Adam Schiff and Ilhan Omar, he views me as a formidable political opponent.
On the same broadcast, Bash criticized Schiff for incorrect claims he made in the past against former President Donald Trump and Russia during a Sunday interview. Conservative Brief claimed that Bash put Schiff on the defensive when he pushed back on Schiff’s official pronouncements.
Bash directly addressed Schiff’s statements. “You said that there was direct evidence of the fact that Donald Trump colluded with Russia back in 2016. Special counsel Robert Mueller said in his report — quote — ‘The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government,’” Bash pointed out. “Republicans argue that’s proof that you used your position on the Intelligence Committee to intentionally mislead Americans, which is why you should not be on that committee.”
Schiff denied that Mueller’s report actually said that — though it did — and countered that Trump’s 2016 campaign manager shared internal polling information with a Russian agent. “To most Americans, that is collusion,” said Schiff. “Now, whether it’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of conspiracy — that’s what Bob Mueller was talking about — I have always distinguished between the two,” Conservative Brief continued.
Schiff did not elaborate on the stated difference.