McCarthy fumes at journalists: "You don’t get to determine whether I answer a question or not"

The speaker lost his cool with reporters when asked about George Santos' mounting scandals and lies

Published January 26, 2023 2:30PM (EST)

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a news conference in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 12, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks at a news conference in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 12, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., snapped at reporters on Tuesday while answering questions about committee assignments for lawmakers in the 118th Congress.

Journalists were seeking clarification about who will serve on the House Intelligence Committee. McCarthy confirmed that Democratic California Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell will not be on Intelligence and noted that embattled Representative George Santos, R-N.Y., will be placed elsewhere.

"Intel Committee? Is Santos on the Intel Committee? Am I allowing Schiff — am I allowing Schiff to be on other committees? Go right ahead," said McCarthy.

That prompted a journalist to press McCarthy on what he believes is acceptable behavior:

Because you have direct power over who goes on the Intelligence Committee. You also will be able to create for your full House taking off other Democrats, perhaps Representative [Ilhan] Omar [D-Minn]. But you said that lying to us is something that means you should be removed from the Intelligence Committee, but why is it not a factor in making a statement that this is a man who should not be on committees, something you have power over?

McCarthy defended Santos: "Well, let me be very clear. He's gotten elected by his district."

The reporter replied, "that doesn't answer my question. Why does lying..."

McCarthy cut her off and lost his cool:

Okay. Let me be very clear and respectful to you. You asked me a question. When I answer it, it's the answer to your question. You don't get to determine whether I answer your question or not, okay? In all respect, thank you. No, no, let's answer her question. You just raised the question. I'm going to be very clear with you.

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, although the secrets are going on in the world, other members of Congress don't know. What did Adam Schiff do as the chairman of the Intel Committee? What Adam Schiff did, use his power as a chairman and lie to the American public. Even the Inspector General said it. When [ex-Congressman] Devin Nunes, [R-Calif.,] put out a memo, he said it was false. 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. If you talk to John Radcliffe, DNI, he came out ahead of time and says there's no intel to prove that. And he used his position as chairman knowing he has information the rest of America does not and lied to the American public. 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.

So, no, he does not have a right to sit on that. But I will not be like Democrats and play politics with these where they removed Republicans from committees and all committees. So, yes, he can serve on a committee, but he will not serve on Intel because it goes to the national security of America, and I will always put them first. All right. And if you want to talk about Swalwell, let's talk about Swalwell, because you have not had the briefing that I had. I had the briefing, and [former Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] had the briefing from the FBI. The FBI never came before this Congress to tell the leadership of this Congress that Eric Swalwell had a problem with a Chinese spy until he served on Intel. So it wasn't just us who were concerned about the FBI was concerned about putting a member of Congress on the Intel Committee that has the right to see things that others don't because of his knowledge and relationship with the Chinese spy. They brought it to the works of the leaders. I've got that briefing. So I do not believe he should sit on there, that committee. And I believe there's 200 other Democrats that can serve on that committee.

So this has nothing to do with Santos. Santos is not on the Intel Committee. But you know what? Those voters elected Schiff even though he lied. Those voters elected Swalwell even though he lied to the American public too. So you know what? I'll respect his voters too. And they'll serve on committees, but they will not serve on a place that has national security reverence. Because integrity matters to me. That's the answer to your question.

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By Brandon Gage

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Adam Schiff Alternet Eric Swalwell George Santos Kevin Mccarthy Politics