WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) rumbled with a reporter who questioned Tuesday why he gave admitted liar George Santos (R-NY) committee seats but booted two Democrats from the House intelligence panel.
“You said that lying to us is something that means you should be removed from the Intel Committee. But why is it not a factor [for Santos]?” PBS reporter Lisa Desjardins asked.
“Well, let me be very—” McCarthy began.
“He’s gotten elected by his district, so–” the speaker tried again, before the PBS reporter demanded he “answer my question.”
McCarthy bristled, saying: “Let me be very clear and respectful to you. You ask me a question. When I answer it, it’s the answer to your question. You don’t get to determine whether I answer a question or not, OK? In all respect. Thank you.”
The tussle followed McCarthy’s official rejection of Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) from the high-profile committee that is regularly briefed on America’s secrets, in which the speaker cited security and honesty concerns with both Democratic lawmakers.
Turning to Desjardins’ query, the speaker insisted: “The Intel Committee is different. You know why? Because what happens in the Intel Committee, you don’t know. What happens in the Intel Committee, all of the secrets of going on in the world, other members of Congress don’t know.”
McCarthy accused Schiff of knowing The Post’s 2020 story about Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings was not the result of Russian interference but lying about it anyway.
“When we had a laptop, he used it before an election to be politics and say that it was false and said it was the Russians when he knew different, when he knew the intel,” the speaker said. “When a whistleblower came forward, he said he did not know the individual — even though his staff had met with him and set it up.”
Turning to Swalwell, McCarthy snapped that Desjardins had “not had the briefing that I had,” noting that the FBI met privately with him and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to discuss the congressman’s ties to China.
“The FBI was concerned about putting a member of Congress on the Intel Committee that has the rights to see things that others don’t because of his knowledge and relationship with a Chinese spy,” he said. “They brought it to the works of the leaders — I’ve got that briefing.”
“So I do not believe he should sit on that committee, and I believe there’s 200 other Democrats that can serve on that committee [instead],” he added.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended Schiff and Swalwell on Wednesday, saying they “bring a lot to the table.” She claimed that the Intelligence Committee “should not be politicized.”
McCarthy said Tuesday he would allow the two Californians to sit on other committees because he “will not be like Democrats and play politics.”
“[They] can serve on a committee, but [they] will not serve on Intel because it goes to the national security of America, and I will always put them first,” McCarthy said.
Last week, McCarthy put sketchy Santos on the Science, Space and Technology and Small Business committees — despite the Long Island Republican’s admission to The Post last month that he lied about graduating college and working for top investment firms.
Santos is expected to be scrutinized by the House Ethics Committee following reporting on his lies and allegations of other misconduct. McCarthy had vowed Tuesday that Santos would be removed from office if the panel finds he broke the law.