House Republicans Storm Closed-Door Impeachment Hearing to Demand Transparency

‘The members have just had it and they want to be able to see and represent their constituents and find out what’s going on…’

House Republicans gather for a news conference after storming the closed-door impeachment hearing. / AP Photo

(Liberty Headlines) Around two dozen GOP congressmen stormed into a closed-door deposition with a Defense Department official on Wednesday, bringing to a halt House Democrats’ latest impeachment investigation.

Democrats—who have routinely leaked selective information on the hearings to media sources—claimed that the move compromised national security since some of them brought electronic devices into a secure room.

The probe, led by House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has heard testimony from an array of career diplomats, some detailing President Donald Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate allegations of corruption surrounding potential political rival Joe Biden.

Republicans have been silent on the president’s behavior, questioning the claims—with no evidence yet presented publicly—that Trump acted inappropriately in his July phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Many have noted the hypocritical double-standard of the Left—including several congressmen and Biden, himself, who have exerted political and financial pressure on Ukraine to do their bidding.

The latest effort also follows endless investigation of Trump’s personal finances and the two-year Mueller probe into Russian collusion—now debunked—both of which congressional Democrats pursued as possible avenues for undoing the 2016 election results by removing Trump.

Republicans also criticized the unorthodox moves Democrats had taken in the current impeachment process, including a refusal to put the probe to a floor vote.

That has barred them from fully participating in the hearings, said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform panel.

“The members have just had it and they want to be able to see and represent their constituents and find out what’s going on,” said Jordan.

His committee is one of three leading the investigation, and its members are allowed into the closed-door hearings.

Chaos in Congress…

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Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., center, gathers with fellow House Republicans for a news conference. / AP Photo: Patrick Semansky

Jordan said things were at a “standstill.” And after several hours, a handful of members remained in the room. The deposition with Laura Cooper, a senior Defense Department official who oversees Ukraine policy, was temporarily on hold.

Democrats deny that Republicans are being treated unfairly, noting they have had equal time to question witnesses and full access to the meetings. But they said the lawmakers—several of whom do not sit on one of the three committees—had compromised security at the closed-door deposition.

The interviews are being held in what is called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, which is a totally secure room where members can hear classified information.

Several lawmakers leaving the facility said that some of the Republicans had brought their cellphones, even though electronics are not allowed. All members of Congress are familiar with the protocol of the SCIF, since they are often invited to classified briefings, and there are several such rooms around the Capitol.

Left-wing lawmakers described the harrowing and chaotic scene.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said she had just walked into the room when the Republican lawmakers blew past Capitol Police officers and Democratic staffers. The staff member who was checking identification at the entrance was “basically overcome” by the Republicans, she said.

“Literally some of them were just screaming about the president and what we’re doing to him and that we have nothing and just all things that were supportive of the president,” said Wasserman Schultz, a member of the Oversight Committee and former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Not all GOP party-members were supportive of the demonstration.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, criticized his Republican colleagues for the tactic, calling them “nuts” to make a “run on the SCIF.”

“That’s not the way to do it,” he said.

Schiffting the Transparency Goalpost

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Adam Schiff / IMAGE: CSPAN via Youtube

The Republicans said Americans should be able to read the transcripts of the closed-door depositions and any other interviews being conducted as part of impeachment.

Democrats have promised to release the transcripts when it won’t affect their investigation, and Schiff has pushed back on the criticism of the depositions.

He said in a letter to colleagues last week that “the majority and minority have been provided equal staff representation and time to question witnesses, who have stayed until the majority and the minority have asked all of their questions—often late into the evening.”

But Schiff’s critics counter that he already has proven he is acting in bad faith by lying about the transcript between Trump and Zelenskiy; falsely stating that he had no contact with the so-called whistleblower prior to a complaint being filed; and promising that the accuser would publicly testify before backtracking on the claim, citing the need for anonymity.

Several Republicans appeared to be tweeting from the secure room. North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker tweeted: “UPDATE: We are in the SCIF and every GOP Member is quietly listening.”

Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter wrote that “my Republican colleagues and I just stormed the impeachment hearing room and finally got in.”

Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs retweeted some of his colleague’s tweets but followed up with a clarification: “All tweets sent out when I’m in the SCIF are being transmitted to staff for publication,” he wrote.

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California said Republicans didn’t want to hear the testimony from Cooper because they were “freaked out” by the allegations made by previous witnesses.

“They know more facts are going to be delivered that are absolutely damning to the President of the United States,” Lieu said.

As some members remained in the room, Rep. Steven Lynch, D-Mass., said Democrats shouldn’t call House security to remove the Republicans because it would be “theatrics.”

“Just having members hauled off, even though it might give some people great pleasure, I think we just have to handle it in a better fashion,” Lynch said. “Hopefully with some deliberations cooler heads will prevail.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press