House Republican defends protest of closed-door hearing

One of the House Republicans who interrupted a closed-door hearing on Wednesday to protest the Democrats' handling of the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE defended the move on Thursday.

“I don’t think storming is the proper word,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, told Hill.TV in response to coverage of the protest. “Everything that we did was very orderly.”

“This process is certainly not fair to anybody — most of all the American people,” he added.

More than a dozen GOP lawmakers, including House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseRepublicans criticize Pelosi for gifting pens used to sign impeachment articles The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment trial a week away; debate night GOP leaders take aim at Democrats over rhetoric on Iran MORE (R-La.), on Wednesday barged into the sensitive compartmented information facility, delaying the deposition of a top Defense Department official who was set to give a private testimony about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Proceedings were delayed five hours as a result of the disruption.

Democrats have expressed concerns that Republican congressmen potentially put national security at risk by going into the hearing room with cell phones, a violation of security procedures. One member — Rep. Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier Mooney2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics Ocasio-Cortez calls out GOP lawmakers asking to be arrested, citing privilege Ocasio-Cortez, Mooney spar on Twitter over closed-door impeachment hearings MORE (R-W.Va.) — even made a phone call in the room and posted the audio on Twitter.

In response to criticism of this move, Keller refocused the narrative on GOP criticism of the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry.

“If we want to talk about censure and things that are happening, lets talk about due process and make sure that when we’re talking about undoing the vote of the American people,” he told Hill.TV.

While some Trump allies praised the stunt, the conservative House Republicans faced some heat from their Democratic counterparts, including Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Sanders MORE (D-Minn.).

"This is what happens when people elect members more interested in media hits than the protection of our national security," Omar tweeted.

— Tess Bonn