GOP lawmakers storm secure hearing room to disrupt impeachment inquiry hearing


A group of House Republicans 'formed a mob to break into a secure room' on Wednesday morning, disrupting the House impeachment inquiry.

On Wednesday morning, a group of House Republicans led by Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) stormed into a secure room where several House committees were engaged in a deposition related to the impeachment inquiry.

"Roughly two dozen House conservatives stormed the secure hearing room — known as the SCIF — to rail on the process, delaying the Cooper testimony," according to CNN reporter Manu Raju. "The conservatives walked into hearing room with their electronics, [Rep. Gerry] Connolly said, which is prohibited in the room," Raju added.

House Republicans "just formed a mob to break into a secure room, stop a hearing, and carry phones into spaces where they are banned because of classified information," Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) tweeted Wednesday morning.

Gaetz bragged about being in the room, tweeting, "I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside - more details to come." It is unclear if Gaetz sent the tweet from inside a secure room, a clear violation, or if he somehow communicated with his staff to send the message.

According to Politico, the actions by Republicans "forced police to conduct a sweep for possible security breaches of what's supposed to be a secure room."

The Republicans who stormed into the room are not on the relevant committees conducting the deposition. In 2014, former GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina defended the right of committees to kick out nonmembers when conducting investigations, going so far as to dismiss fellow Republican Darrell Issa from a hearing he tried to crash.

Several House committees were in the process of deposing Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper. Russia and Ukraine are in Cooper's portfolio, and CNN reports that Congress was likely to ask her about the Trump administration's decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Other Trump administration officials told Congress that the aid was withheld in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals in order to help his 2020 campaign.

Democrats are considering asking the Capitol Police to escort Republicans out of the hearing room, according to the Washington Post.

Republicans have repeatedly complained that the impeachment inquiry is happening behind closed doors, even though Republicans on the committee have the ability to listen to witnesses and questions them. Democrats defend the process as they continue to learn more about Trump's actions with Ukraine and possible impeachable offenses.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.