(The Hill) – A trio of Democratic House members targeted by Speaker Kevin McCarthy for removal from their committee assignments defended themselves on Sunday from claims that they are unfit to serve on the congressional panels, with one blasting the California Republican’s efforts as “Bakersfield BS.”
“The only real explanation is he needs [Reps.] Marjorie Taylor Greene’s vote, he needs Paul Gosar’s vote, he wants to retaliate for their removal from the committee,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to McCarthy. “And apparently he believes I was very effective in exposing his misconduct, Donald Trump’s misconduct, and that’s what they’re trying to stop.”
Schiff along with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) have been booted from the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is under threat of being kicked off of the House Foreign Affairs panel, which unlike the Intelligence Committee, requires a vote by the full chamber.
Republicans have argued that Schiff used his position on the Intelligence Committee to lie about the connections between the campaign of former President Trump and the Russian government despite an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller that found no such coordination.
Republicans also say Swalwell is unfit for the committee because of allegations that he became involved with a suspected Chinese spy as far back as 2012. He was not accused of any wrongdoing by investigators. He said he cooperated with the FBI in the investigation, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from saying Swalwell put himself in a compromising position with a foreign agent.
“This is some Bakersfield BS,” Swalwell said on CNN, referring to the city in California where McCarthy is from. “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.”
Omar, the first Somali American and one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, is accused of using antisemitic tropes in the past when addressing American support for Israel. She has apologized for such rhetoric, saying she was unaware at the time of how her words would be perceived.
“I might’ve used words at the time that I didn’t understand were trafficking in antisemitism,” Omar said on Sunday. “When that was brought to my attention, I apologized, I owned up to it.”
While McCarthy was able to dispatch Schiff and Swalwell unilaterally, he needs a majority vote of the House to boot Omar from her panel. It is unclear if the Speaker would have enough votes to do so.