Officials know identity of woman who infiltrated GOP retreat
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

The nonprofit organization that ran last week’s joint House and Senate GOP retreat in Philadelphia has identified the woman who infiltrated and secretly recorded private discussions at the highly secure gathering.

House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersHillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns Top Commerce Republicans grill TikTok parent company Hillicon Valley: House Dems include .6 billion for mail-in voting in stimulus bill | Uber in discussions to acquire GrubHub | Trump backs effort to reopen California Tesla plant MORE (Wash.) told her colleagues during a closed-door meeting Tuesday that the Congressional Institute has identified the individual who impersonated a congressman’s wife, sneaked into the retreat and made digital recordings of lawmaker deliberations on national security and ObamaCare, as well as a speech by Vice President Pence.

The woman later emailed those recordings to several news outlets, including The Washington Post. The recordings shed light on broad disagreements within the GOP on how exactly to repeal and replace former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe star of tomorrow: Temptation and a career in politics reporting Blair questions Trump approach to coronavirus pandemic How a global 'Manhattan Project' could end pandemics MORE’s healthcare law.

Rumors have been circulating on Capitol Hill that the woman may be a liberal activist or blogger. But officials would not describe her or release her name.

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“There is an active criminal investigation going on, and police are doing the hard work of piecing together evidence,” McMorris Rodgers told lawmakers of the joint investigation between the Capitol Police and Congressional Institute, according to a source in the room.

House lawmakers both inside and outside Tuesday’s GOP conference meeting expressed alarm about the security breach — especially since the woman managed to gain access to the same room where President Trump, Pence, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanLobbying world John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America House Democrat calls for halt to lawmakers sleeping in their offices MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate President Pro Tem Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah) appeared.

“Someone trespassed at an event where the president and the vice president were present. That’s certainly concerning,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who attended the retreat, told The Hill.

The room held “the president and the top three in the line of succession.”

Security was still tight. The hundreds of House and Senate lawmakers and spouses who attended speeches by Trump and Pence had to go through metal detectors, and Secret Service agents and Capitol Police officers were strewn throughout the room at Loews Hotel.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a Trump ally on Capitol Hill, made the point that the woman’s actions didn’t just constitute a security breach — it will discourage lawmakers from openly debating issues behind closed doors for fear of being recorded.

“It violates future opportunities to discuss policy candidly,” Reed told The Hill.

Over the weekend, Congressional Institute President Mark Strand emailed members of Congress to lay out details of the breach. The woman “infiltrated” the retreat last Thursday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., “misrepresented herself on multiple occasions to retreat organizers as the spouse of an elected official,” and accessed the retreat using counterfeit credentials, Strand wrote.

“She was escorted from the event at about 6:30 p.m.,” he added.

It remained unclear why authorities did not arrest her when she was escorted from the retreat that same evening.

Strand told The Hill Tuesday he could not identify the woman or discuss the case because of the ongoing investigation. A Capitol Police spokesperson did not return an email seeking comment.