RadioOnFire.com – Roughly two dozen House Republicans delayed a witness deposition in the ongoing impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, storming the secure hearing room and demanding to take part, raising security concerns about the sensitive space.
Democrats halted the deposition and were consulting with the House Seargent-at-Arms about proceedings, which have been limited to members of the three committees conducting the impeachment probe.
The GOP group, led by Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., staged a news conference denouncing the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry before entering the secure room known as a Secure Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, where Republicans and Democrats on relevant committees were preparing to question Laura Cooper, a senior Pentagon official with jurisdiction over Russian and Ukrainian policy.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said Republicans “stormed” into the room with their cell phones – which are not allowed to be in the space considered to be the most secure in the Capitol. Some, including Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, were shouting.
“The SCIF is used by Congress for lots of classified, highly classified purposes. To compromise that to make a point is deeply troubling,” Connolly said.
“Failing all else, like the merits of the case, trying to defend the president effectively, they have now decided on physical disruption as their fallback.”
GOP Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, sensing a problem, began collecting cell phones from members, who are supposed to deposit them in a cabinet outside before entering the room, according to Connolly and others in the room.
The Republicans who forced their way into the room argued they should be able to question the witness even though they aren’t members of the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.
“We are sitting members of Congress,” argued Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., “With relevant jurisdiction over the witness.”
Forty-six House Republicans serve on the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees leading the impeachment probe, or roughly 1-in-4 members of the House GOP caucus. Members of the Judiciary Committee, which handles impeachment proceedings, have argued that they should be allowed to take part in the inquiry – which Democrats have said is a precursor for more formal impeachment proceedings and open hearings.