Denouncing the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump undertaken by Democrats in the House, several dozen GOP lawmakers stormed into a secure hearing room in the bowels of the Capitol on Wednesday, demanding that the proceedings be made public, and delaying a scheduled deposition involving a Pentagon official for a little over five hours.
"We're going to go, and see if we can get inside," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), as a group of several dozen Republicans pushed their way into the room, unhappy with how Democrats are handling this investigation.
"This is very unfair to the President," said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).
"The American people deserve a public and open process," said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), as Republicans prevented three different committees from moving ahead with Wednesday's hearing.
Developing: House GOP members storm a secure hearing room to interrupt witness testimony in the impeachment inquiry into @realDonaldTrump @RepMattGaetz led the charge. https://t.co/mWBdJSGZdh pic.twitter.com/Lj1P7mSnVb— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) October 23, 2019
BREAKING: I led over 30 of my colleagues into the SCIF where Adam Schiff is holding secret impeachment depositions. Still inside - more details to come. https://t.co/fHhqkZ6x3Z— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 23, 2019
I & dozens of GOP colleagues held a joint news conference attacking the Socialist Democrats' secret, closed-door, Capitol basement impeachment proceedings that shut out the public & congressmen from impeachment testimony, evidence, & developments. pic.twitter.com/Ra7HD8h35V— Mo Brooks (@RepMoBrooks) October 23, 2019
Those interrupting the proceedings included Republican lawmakers who are allowed into the secure hearing room - because they are on one of the three committees involved in these closed door depositions - Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs.
Democrats labeled the sit-in a political stunt that smacked of desperation.
"Trump wanted a foreign government to investigate his political opponent," said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). "That is a crime."
“Today's circus-like stunt will delay but it will not prevent our search for the truth about the president’s stunning misconduct,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).
Republicans in Congress have disputed none of it. Instead, they've decided that their only course of action is to disrupt the investigation so it can't uncover any more evidence.— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) October 23, 2019
"GOP "storming" a classified deposition was a ridiculous stunt," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
Democrats also criticized the GOP effort for violating rules on security, as a number of Republican lawmakers brought cell phones into the secure facility, which is prohibited.
It resulted in officials having to conduct a sweep of the rooms, to make sure no electronic devices had been left behind.
"You may wonder why is it happening now?” asked Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA). “Because Bill Taylor gave a devastating opening statement yesterday. They're freaked out. They're trying to stop this investigation.”
Taylor is the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine - he testified Tuesday before investigators, making the case that President Trump was withholding military aid for Ukraine in a bid to get the Ukraine government to publicly announce investigations which might help Mr. Trump's re-election bid.
In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, the President took direct aim at Taylor.
Never Trumper Republican John Bellinger, represents Never Trumper Diplomat Bill Taylor (who I don't know), in testimony before Congress! Do Nothing Democrats allow Republicans Zero Representation, Zero due process, and Zero Transparency....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2019
Reports indicated the President may have been told by allies in the U.S. House of their Wednesday plans.
“This looks awfully like obstruction,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).
After ordering some pizza and refusing to leave the room known as a SCIF - Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility - GOP lawmakers moved on after about five hours, as Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant Secretary of Defense began her testimony around 3:15 pm.
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