Opinion | McCarthy may regret kicking Schiff off House Intelligence Committee


It tells you much about the priorities of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that he has seated serial fabulist George Santos (R-N.Y.) on multiple House committees while removing Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) from the Intelligence panel he led the past four years.

The full House would have to vote if Mr. McCarthy forges ahead with plans to expel Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, but the speaker has the power to unilaterally block members from the Intelligence panel. Just because Mr. McCarthy has the power, however, doesn’t mean he should have used it.

This is payback for votes two years ago by the Democratic-led House to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committees. The Editorial Board didn’t endorse that effort at the time because we feared this sort of tit-for-tat cycle. But there are significant differences — starting with the fact that some Republicans joined Democrats in voting to strip Ms. Greene and Mr. Gosar of their assignments. No Democrat has expressed support for this.

Moreover, both of the Republicans had at least implicitly encouraged political violence: Mr. Gosar posted an animated video depicting the murder of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Ms. Greene claimed on social media that deadly school shootings were staged and favorited posts calling for the execution of Democratic leaders and federal agents. Last month, Ms. Greene boasted that she and former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon would have succeeded if they had organized the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “We would have won,” she said. “Not to mention, we would’ve been armed.” (She subsequently called this sarcasm.) Both Ms. Greene and Mr. Gosar received coveted slots on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee this year.

Mr. McCarthy accuses Mr. Schiff of hyping evidence related to Russian interactions with Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and not being forthright about his knowledge of the identity of the whistleblower who filed the complaint, later substantiated, that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment for shaking down Ukraine. The speaker justified removing Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the same committee by suggesting he was compromised by a Chinese intelligence operative, but fact-checkers say there is no evidence Mr. Swalwell did anything wrong.

We suspect the real reason Republicans are going after Mr. Schiff is that he has been so effective. Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had such confidence in Mr. Schiff that she made him — not the chairman of the Judiciary Committee — the point person on the first of Mr. Trump’s impeachments. He also performed valuable service as a member of the select committee that investigated the insurrection.

If Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) retires as many expect in 2024, Mr. Schiff appears likely to run for Senate. We expect that Mr. McCarthy’s pettiness will redound to the political benefit of his fellow Californian. He may have laid the groundwork for Mr. Schiff to succeed Ms. Feinstein not only as a senator but also in a leading role on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The Post’s View | About the Editorial Board

Editorials represent the views of The Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the Editorial Board, based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom.

Members of the Editorial Board and areas of focus: Opinion Editor David Shipley; Deputy Opinion Editor Karen Tumulty; Associate Opinion Editor Stephen Stromberg (national politics and policy, legal affairs, energy, the environment, health care); Lee Hockstader (European affairs, based in Paris); David E. Hoffman (global public health); James Hohmann (domestic policy and electoral politics, including the White House, Congress and governors); Charles Lane (foreign affairs, national security, international economics); Heather Long (economics); Associate Editor Ruth Marcus; and Molly Roberts (technology and society).

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