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White House defends Schiff, Swalwell and Omar amid battle over committees

The White House on Wednesday pushed back on Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) opposition to having three House Democrats serve on certain committees.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took issue with McCarthy blocking Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from serving on the House Intelligence Committee, and with McCarthy’s pledge to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Jean-Pierre said all three members “bring a lot to the table when it comes to foreign policy and national security.”

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“We’ll say that when it comes to that committee, it should not be politicized,” Jean-Pierre added, speaking specifically about the House Intelligence Committee. “It should be independent. And again, those congressional members bring a lot of expertise to that committee, and I’ll leave it there.”

McCarthy on Tuesday formally rejected Schiff and Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee, saying the two were not qualified for a panel that has access to sensitive and classified materials.

McCarthy has accused Schiff of lying to the public about former President Trump’s ties to Russia — a charge that Schiff has dismissed as political retribution. 

In Swalwell’s case, he was associated with a suspected Chinese spy who had fundraised for his 2014 campaign, a revelation that was made public in 2020. McCarthy has said that a confidential FBI briefing on the episode has left him convinced that Swalwell is a national security risk. 

Omar has drawn backlash from Republicans for her critical remarks about Israel in recent years. McCarthy has said she should be removed from the House Foreign Affairs panel, but blocking her from that committee requires a majority of the chamber to vote in favor.

Democrats have argued the McCarthy moves are political retribution for last Congress, when Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) from their committees following revelations that they had promoted violence against some of their Democratic colleagues.

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