House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took aim at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for creating a “failure” by focusing on impeachment investigations against former President Donald Trump rather than on providing oversight on intelligence about the Taliban's influence in Afghanistan.
“We should have been having hearings on what's going on over there. We should have been able to gather that they would collapse this fast. But Adam Schiff was too focused on impeachment than doing the job he was supposed to do,” McCarthy, a California Republican, said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Schiff, a Democrat, also from California, became the face of the first impeachment effort against Trump as head of the Intelligence Committee, despite the House Judiciary Committee traditionally taking the leading role in impeachment proceedings.
“How much time did Adam Schiff spend looking around the world of what his responsibility is?” McCarthy said. “When you're on the Intel Committee, you learn things that other members do not know. But he spent all this time on politics.”
McCarthy added that he would look at what “failure he created, too.”
A top concern of lawmakers in light of the U.S. being surprised by a swift Taliban takeover of Afghanistan as U.S. troops pulled out of the country is the quality of intelligence.
After a classified Intelligence Committee briefing on Monday, Schiff relayed in general terms what the intelligence agencies knew about the situation in Afghanistan leading up to the collapse.
"Intelligence agencies’ assessments of the Afghan government's ability to maintain itself became increasingly pessimistic over the course of the last six months,” Schiff said.
“There were any number of warnings that the Taliban might take over, and some that included a potential of a very rapid takeover,” Schiff said, but added no one predicted such a rapid collapse.
McCarthy said that if Republicans win back the House in 2022 and he becomes speaker, he would task House committees with evaluating what led to the situation in Afghanistan rather than creating some sort of select committee solely focused on the issue.
“We have people who have such expertise, were on the ground,” McCarthy said. “I would take it through all committees, from Armed Services to Foreign Affairs to Intel. And I would change the Intel Committee back to the purpose of what their responsibility was.”
“They have a responsibility of overseeing the agencies. But what did they do? They turned it to look within. They spent it as a political arm,” McCarthy said.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks