McCarthy is Right to Block Schiff and Swalwell for Intel Committee
Actually, I have mixed feeling about the Speaker blocking opposition members from committees. Traditionally, it has been the prerogative of the minority to pick its members. Unfortunately, then Speaker Pelosi abused that tradition and cynically used her power to block two Republican members from her Select Committee supposedly “investigating” the January 6th Capitol Hill riot.
Pelosi doubled down on her effort to create a one-sided prosecutorial panel by breaking yet another tradition. She used her power as Speaker to appoint two favored Republicans who would follow the Democrat script – who would be her useful idiots. Of course, Pelosi had that opportunity because – in a moment of strategic stupidity – Minority Leader McCarthy refused to name any Republicans to the Committee.
Pelosi has now established a new tradition. The Speaker can block committee nominees offered up by the Minority Leader. Had it not been for Pelosi’s cynical political action, I might have been inclined to have opposed McCarthy’s decision.
I do believe, however, that McCarthy has better grounds for blocking Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, from the Select Intelligence Committee than Pelosi had in rejecting Republican Congressmen Jim Banks of Indiana, and Jim Jordan, of Ohio, from the Select January 6th Select Committee. Pelosi seemed concerned that they would be the most effective and articulate voices of opposition to the Democrat pre-judged narrative.
At the time, an angry McCarthy called Pelosi’s action “an egregious abuse of power and will irreparably damage this institution.” Pelosi’s action certainly damaged the comity of the institution and made her unprecedented action standard operating procedure. In the final analysis, Pelosi undermined the credibility of her one-sided Select Committee and institutional a more acrimonious political atmosphere to the House.
And this was not the first time that Democrats led the fight to boot Republican members from Committees. Pelosi led the fight that got Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green, and Congressman Paul Gosar booted from their committees for what they deemed provocative language – allegedly calling for violence against other members. It was more a matter of interpretation – applying literalness to figurative speech.
McCarthy has also indicated a desire to remove Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. She has been consistently at odds with American foreign policy. McCarthy’s rationale is that Omar’s highly anti-Semitic statements – and her support for the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement – made her unfit to deal with American foreign policy – including secret strategies.
However, booting Ilhan is a much more difficult task since Foreign Affairs is a standing House Committee – which means it would take a vote of a majority of all House members to oust her from the Committee. McCarthy can act unilaterally in terms of select committees.
Schiff earned his ouster by using his access to highly confidential information for partisan political purposes. It is widely believed that he leaked selective information to the press to feed bogus accusations of Trump’s complicity in Russian election interference.
He continuously proffered claims of Trump conspiring with the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. In fact, he lied when he said that he had seen the hard evidence – but that he could not reveal the specifics because the “proof” was confidential. His lie was exposed when Special Counsel Robert Mueller reported that “no American” was found to have conspired with Russia – and that included Trump. That alone earned Schiff expulsion from the Intel Committee.
Swalwell’s problem was having a Chinese mistress who was a spy for Beijing. That was an egregious lack of good judgment. Given what we know about Chinese methods, Swalwell should have been more guarded. It was one of those issues where the appearance is as bad as the reality. Members of the Intelligence Committee should be above even an appearance of impropriety – and not be so easily suckered.
McCarthy is not blocking Schiff and Swalwell without reasonable cause – especially in view of the new standard set by Pelosi. It is not a matter of retribution. Schiff and Swalwell fail to me the high standard we should expect from members of the Intelligence Committee.
Ilhan Omar? I think McCarty should drop his opposition. Yes, she seems to be at odds with American foreign policy, but having an opposition view is not justification for botting her. A good Congress depends on the resolving of opposition views. (Not like Pelosi’s January 6th Committee – in case you did not see the comparison.)
So, there ‘tis.